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Natives from G8 nations eye summit in Maryland

FREDERICK — Perhaps it’s fitting that Joe Cohen celebrates his birthday July 4.

Cohen owns Classic Cigars and British Goodies on North Market Street in downtown Frederick. He came to America three decades ago, intent on upgrading to the American dream, having lived through rations during World War II as a boy.

“People come here because of the dream,” Cohen said, standing in front of a shelf in his shop, where American microbrews were on sale alongside European mainstays Guinness, Boddingtons and a new addition, Tetley’s Smooth, an English ale.

More than 233,000 people live in Frederick County, according to the 2010 Census. More than 20,000 county residents said they were born on foreign soil. Of those, 2,499 people said they are from one of the seven countries that will have dignitaries visiting for the G-8 summit being held Friday and Saturday at Camp David.

As he placed mussels and shrimp onto a large plate of spaghetti in the kitchen of NY J&P Pizza in Spring Ridge, owner Antonio Illiano said he pays little attention to politics back home in Naples, Italy.

Illiano, who moved to the United States in 1983, said he believes the economy, jobs and trade will top the list of the leaders’ discussion during the two-day event.

“I’ll bring them a bottle of wine,” Illiano said, as tomato sauce bubbled atop his industrial stove.

“They’ll make a big decision after a bottle of wine.”

Without a formal agenda from the White House, what might be on the list for discussion for the G-8 summit remains anyone’s guess. People who moved to Frederick County from G-8 countries seem reluctant to roll out the red carpet just yet. Considering the financial turmoil that has embattled Europe in recent years, the meltdown of the Greek government and questions regarding whether it should pull out of the eurozone, the economy is likely to be high on the list of topics.

Biljana Blank moved to Frederick from Heidelberg, Germany, in 2006 when her husband’s job with the Defense Department brought the couple to the United States. She said she believes German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be in the hot seat because of Germany’s austerity policies meant to cut the country’s deficit and its role in helping to bail out the Greek government.

“The German chancellor right now is facing sort of a showdown because, for the longest time, I think she was able to effectively dictate what was going to happen in the European economic policies, and I think that too many people are pushing and saying, ‘You went the wrong way, you’ve got to do something different,'” Blank said. “I think it’s something she’s having a hard time selling to Germans because they feel like they’re pumping money into a broken project.”

Illiano, too, said he believes the economy, jobs creation and trade will be at the top of the list.

“If Greece were to pull out of the euro, I think that’s the worst thing that could ever happen (for Greece),” Illiano said.

Yukihiro Matsumoto, a sushi chef at Miyako at Francis Scott Key Mall, suggested that North Korea may be an agenda item for leaders, too. Though he moved from Japan to the United States in 1986, he said he worries about North Korea’s aggressive tactics because of its proximity to his homeland.

“Powerful nations have the duty to help undeveloped nations” with issues such as job creation, said Maria Gaetskaya, who is from Inta, Russia. A sophomore studying political science at Hood College, Gaetskaya said students have been talking about the summit on campus.

“They should be concerned not just with local problems but with problems in other parts of the world,” she said of summit leaders. “We’re all united.”

Some international residents who settled in Frederick County share a hope similar to one that is likely top of the list for people who were born in Frederick.

“I hope the traffic will not be too bad,” said Daniele Du Bois.

Du Bois, who is French, landed in New York on New Year’s Day 1960. She moved to Spring Ridge 16 years ago from Montgomery County. Her husband, George, is originally from Chevy Chase.

Du Bois said she has mixed feelings about the election of Francois Hollande, who will take office May 15 as the president of France. Hollande, a socialist whom Du Bois called a “dreamer,” beat outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy in the May 6 election. Sarkozy was a “courageous” leader, Du Bois said, and she worries that Hollande will set policies that lead to less investment into the French economy.

“I have to give him a chance to see what he’s going to do,” Du Bois said of Hollande.

Whether politicians will venture outside Camp David — and how far — remains a matter of speculation. So does what the full impact of the G-8 may be on the rest of the county. Police said they are monitoring for protesters, and Occupy Frederick has set up a number of peaceful events downtown to coincide with events in Thurmont.

Elizabeth Bauer, who moved from Canada to the U.S. at age 9, said she believes a lot of protesters will come to Frederick. Bauer moved to Middletown with her husband from Montgomery County 23 years ago because the couple wanted their two sons to grow up in the countryside.

“I just hope the police are ready to handle this,” Bauer said.