G20 leaders meet in Indonesia’s Bali in the shadow of war and economic slowdown

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DENPASAR, Bali – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year appeared to overshadow everything else on the agenda of the Group of 20 leaders’ meeting on Tuesday, with the conflict in Europe fueling geopolitical tensions and a global rise in food and energy prices.

Leaders from the G20, invited countries, and international organizations have gathered in Bali to discuss the pressing issues confronting the global economy, which is on the verge of a recession.

In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences, Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country and the largest economy in Southeast Asia, is hosting the summit under the theme “Recover together, recover stronger.”

Although the summit’s official focus is on financial stability, health, sustainable energy, and digital transformation, host Indonesia faces an additional layer of complexity as it attempts to heal divisions within the G20 over the Ukraine conflict.

The mood was acknowledged by Indonesian President Joko Widodo during his opening remarks on Tuesday, just before the closed-door discussions began.

“I understand we need enormous efforts to be able to sit together in this room,” he said, calling for international cooperation.

He stated that the world could not afford “another Cold War,” and that nations must work together to “end the war.”

“Today, the world’s eyes are on our meeting,” he said. Will we be successful? Or will we add another failure to the list? For us, the G20 must and cannot fail.”

The G20 summit this week will be attended by seventeen leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Indonesia invited other countries and international organizations to participate, joining a long list of world leaders such as UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

On the sidelines of the G20 summit, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets French President Emmanuel Macron (right) and speaks with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed (top left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoga. (SPA)
On the first day of the summit, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed G20 leaders via video link, expressing hope that the conflict’s end is near.

“I am convinced that now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped,” he said.

Analysts predict that the war will be prominently mentioned in the summit’s final communique, despite the Indonesian hosts’ calls for dialogue and collaboration to address global economic issues such as inflation, food and energy security, and so on.

Meetings of G20 ministers have failed to produce joint declarations since Indonesia assumed the group’s presidency in December. Russia and other members have disagreed on the precise language to use, including how to describe what is happening in Ukraine.

Dr. Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar, an Indonesian international relations researcher at the University of Queensland in Australia, believes the expected final declaration on Wednesday will not fully address the world’s current challenges.

“Given the tensions between the US and China, for example, in some political matters, and then war in Ukraine, it is difficult to see the G20 Summit delivering an agreeable result that can solve the global challenges facing the world today,” he said, “because global challenges facing the world today are largely a political problem.”

“As a result, it is a difficult task for Indonesia to deliver a joint communique capable of resolving all global challenges.”

He stated that the challenges confronting the world today are “out of Indonesia’s reach.”

Umar went on to say that this was due to “the global crisis today necessitating political solutions, and it is difficult for Indonesia to mediate, for example, between Russia and Ukraine.”

The Bali meeting follows Indonesia’s concerted efforts to mediate peace between the warring nations. Widodo was the first Asian leader to visit Kyiv and Moscow in late June to meet with his Ukrainian and Russian counterparts in an effort to reduce the conflict’s impact on the international community.

Bhima Yudhistira, director of the Center of Economic and Law Studies in Jakarta, Indonesia, agreed that the global situation was out of Indonesia’s hands.

“The summit has been overshadowed by the Ukraine war, and it’s possible that they won’t reach a final communique, even though this communique is critical to the meeting’s success,” he told Arab News.

“Because Indonesia’s position is as a developing country, and the defining players are those in conflict and developed countries, even facilitating the meeting between America’s Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping at the G20 is an achievement for now,” Yudhistira said.

Source: Arab News

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