Thursday, June 1, 2023

‘G20 Countries Attempted to Isolate Russia in the Run-Up to Summit’: Indonesian Official

Heru Andriyanto
November 24, 2022 | 2:04 pm
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov looks at his watch during the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, on November 15, 2022. (Antara photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov looks at his watch during the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, on November 15, 2022. (Antara photo)

Jakarta. Russia has been sidelined by senior officials from other G20 countries who sought to produce joint condemnation of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine ahead of the recent summit in Bali, an Indonesian top official said on Wednesday.

Indonesia assumed the G20 presidency last December and two months later Russia began the military offensive in Ukraine.

The geopolitical tense became the main concern for most G20 countries but Indonesia kept reminding them that the G20 is a “premier forum for global economic cooperation”, not geopolitics, Chief Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto said during a talk show on news broadcaster BTV.

“We have had more than 440 meetings prior to the summit -- more than the total number of days in a year -- involving 10 working groups and 12 engagement groups,” Airlangga said. 


“Disagreements arose because geopolitical topics always dominated the discussions,” he added.

When delegates couldn’t agree on the first and second paragraphs, it was impossible to reach any conclusion.

At one point, delegates were gathered at the traditional sailing vessel Pinisi as the meeting venue was moved to Labuan Bajo resort island in East Nusa Tenggara.

“During the meeting, they isolated delegates from Russia,” Airlangga said.

There was another moment when Russian officials entered the meeting venue, some other delegations walked out of the room, he recalled.

But Indonesia’s constant efforts to bind delegates together were fruitful and the previously combative attitudes gradually changed with time, Airlangga said.

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In his opening remarks of the summit, President Joko Widodo called for an immediate end to the war in Ukraine without mentioning Russia by name.

He said the ongoing war is pushing the world into a new crisis after the devastating Covid-19 pandemic and that all countries hold responsibility not only for their own people but also for the global population.

“Being responsible means respecting international laws and the principles of the United Nations Charter consistently. Being responsible means creating a win-win, not zero-sum situation,” he said

Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t attend the summit and appointed Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to lead the Russian delegation.

The closing of the summit on November 16 produced leaders’ declaration that included the following statement: “Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy - constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks.”

It also acknowledged that there were “other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions”. 

“Recognizing that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we acknowledge that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy,” it said.

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Speaking at a press conference after the summit, the Indonesian president said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has become the biggest stumbling block to a consensus among G20 leaders.

“The most contentious paragraph is the one on our stance on the war in Ukraine,” the president said.

“Discussions on that matter have been very argumentative but finally the G20 leaders agreed on a declaration carrying a condemnation against the war in Ukraine because it’s about violations of territorial integrity that caused great suffering to the people and the global economy still hurt by the pandemic, and triggered food and energy crises and potentially also financial crisis,” he said.

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