Brics summit: birth of a counterweight to the West?

The Brics states have convened in Johannesburg for a summit which ends on Thursday. The group's goal is to push for a redesigned global order, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said. In addition to members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, more than 30 other countries from Africa, Latin America and Asia are attending the meeting and a number of them want to join the group. Europe's press sees the optimistic mood clouded by differences.

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Die Welt (DE) /

Not a swan song for the current world order

A major factor blocks the rise of the Brics as a new superpower, Die Welt points out:

“Economic power does not necessarily lead to political power. The Brics states are far too disparate for that. ... In addition, the group's impressive growth figures can be attributed solely to China and India. Compared to the imbalances within the Brics states, the differences in the EU are trivial. ... This is not a swan song for the West. But these countries must be taken seriously.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

A struggle for supremacy

China and Russia want to boost their influence at the expense of other Brics members, but the latter see through this manoeuvre, Jutarnji list:

“As expected, Russia and China are insisting on expansion. Moscow is already presenting Brics with the first candidates for swift admission: Belarus, Iran and Venezuela. And all three states just happen to be big supporters of Putin's regime and his war in Ukraine. China, on the other hand, wants to fill Brics with small states where it has strategic projects. Expansion would give Moscow and China puppets to strengthen their own influence. India, Brazil and South Africa, however, see what is going on and are trying to slow down the process.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Divergences can't be ignored in the long run

There is still a long way to go before the Brics states constitute a real counterweight to the West, observes Le Temps:

“The Brics group has survived so far by taking care to avoid unpleasant issues. Because in addition to the convergence of strictly economic interests there are numerous political divergences. ... Vladimir Putin's decision not to travel to Johannesburg, where he would risk being brought to book by international justice, highlights the limitations of the initiative. The path to transforming this 'Global South' into a real counterweight to the West will be a long one. But Beijing is resolutely working towards it.”

Diena (LV) /

The utopia of a multipolar world order

The participants' goal of ending the West's dominance is somewhat unrealistic, Diena posits:

“There are many idealised notions regarding a multipolar world today. The first is that the end of liberal globalisation would have little impact on national economies. Or in other words, that living standards would remain the same. ... But the reality for most of the world's countries (excluding the major powers) promises to be radically different and far less attractive. And although the unipolar world order has long been unattractive in the eyes of most non-Western countries, the visions for a truly multipolar world remain a utopia.”

Adevărul (RO) /

The cards are being reshuffled

The power structure that emerged in the post-war period no longer corresponds to the current situation, Adevărul observes:

“The states of the Global South have a number of leaders who have discovered that the geopolitical situation (once again dominated by the struggle for strategic resources) is no longer the same as it was in 1945, when the basis of the current international order came into being. Back then the US accounted for 45 percent of the global GDP and five European states still owned most of Africa and a significant part of Asia.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Expansion would be tricky

An enlarged Brics group could become a problem, Corriere della Sera warns:

“One specific point on the agenda which would have immediate implications is the proposed expansion of the bloc founded in 2009. ... More than twenty countries, including Saudi Arabia, have reportedly asked to join. This is a delicate matter: any step towards admitting the world's second-largest oil producer into an economic bloc with Russia and China would undoubtedly attract the attention of the US and its allies in a particularly tense geopolitical climate. In addition, it should be borne in mind that Cuba and Iran are also knocking on the Brics's door and (for now) only India is preventing their entry.”

The Times (GB) /

A long way from unity

The group's political clout is not the reason a number of other states want to join, The Times comments:

“A largely dysfunctional organisation does not improve or gain weight by simple expansion. At the heart of the Brics is the split between three, albeit flawed, democracies - South Africa, India and Brazil, who want to retain a strong relationship with western donors - and the allied autocracies of China and Russia. All can agree that they want to reduce US hegemony. Yet India, for example, increasingly sees itself as a rival to China and has no enthusiasm for an expanded Brics that locks it into an anti-western Beijing bloc.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

No joint foundation

Radio Kommersant FM also sees divisive factors:

“There are certain contradictions among the Brics countries, especially regarding two key issues - the expansion of the group and the introduction of a common currency. Brazil is against the first, India against the second. For the time being, the strategy to end the monopoly of the dollar (which is not an easy process) as well as create an alternative to the G7 is not working. ... But the main problem is: there needs to be a unifying basic concept - a foundation. Dislike of America and the Western world is not enough for integration to work.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Double humiliation for Putin

For Rzeczpospolita the Russian ruler is already among the big losers of the meeting:

“Vladimir Putin must be content with participation by video feed. He will not travel to South Africa for fear of being arrested at the request of the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in Ukraine. This humiliation for the Russian head of state is compounded by another: shortly before the meeting in Johannesburg, the Luna-25 probe, which was supposed to prove that Russia is at the forefront of the conquest of space, crashed.”