Weakened German chancellor Scholz seeks to seize G-7 opportunity for display of leadership

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BERLIN (AFP) - The last time Germany hosted a G-7 summit, then-chancellor Angela Merkel produced a series of viral images with then-US president Barack Obama, clinking giant mugs in a traditional Bavarian beer garden and communing against a verdant Alpine backdrop.

Her successor Olaf Scholz, hobbling in domestic opinion polls and of modest global stature, may struggle to match that convivial atmosphere when leaders gather again from Sunday (June 26).

The centrist Scholz, 64, assumed the presidency of the Group of Seven rich countries in January, just a month after taking office in Berlin.

Since then his handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, soaring inflation and energy supply complications have put his government to the test while sending his approval ratings plunging.

Mr Scholz told parliament on Wednesday he was ready to seize the three days of talks at the Elmau Castle mountain resort - the same remote, picturesque venue Dr Merkel chose in 2015 - to burnish Germany's global image and the standing of the West.

"In Europe's biggest security crisis for decades, Germany as the economically strongest and most populous country in the EU is assuming special responsibility - and not just for its own security but also for the security of its allies," he said.

A series of summits in the coming days must show "that G-7, EU and Nato are as united as ever" and that the "democracies of the world are standing together in the fight against (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's imperialism," Mr Scholz said.

'Merkel tradition'

Dr Joachim Trebbe, a professor of political communication at Berlin's Free University, said Mr Scholz had a "huge opportunity" with the G-7 to dispel any doubts about his leadership skills or resolve against the Russian president.

"At the start of his term and even when the war began, Scholz was quite reserved - perhaps a little bit in the tradition of Ms Merkel," a still-popular conservative the Social Democratic chancellor has sought to emulate, Dr Trebbe said.

She also "tended to manage crises and didn't pay much attention to informing the media at every step".

After accusatio...

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