Indonesia put to test as non-aligned mediator in G20 Summit

By Paloma Almoguera

Bali, Indonesia, Nov 14 (EFE).- The G20 summit Tuesday and Wednesday in Bali will examine Indonesia in its role as host of a meeting marked by divisions over the war in Ukraine and tension between China and the United States, with the Asian country raising the non-aligned flag again more than half a century later.

Indonesian leader Joko Widodo has made an almost personal effort for the presidency of the G20, of the most developed and most emerging countries, by Indonesia to be remembered for more than the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Widodo, who came to power in 2014 and was re-elected in 2019, has gone beyond his role as mere host of the events held each year by the group, made up of the world’s largest rich and developing economies, and has set out to mediate in the Ukrainian conflict and offer a space for dialogue from neutrality.

More than half a century after Indonesia hosted the Bandung Conference in 1955, the origin of the Non-Aligned Movement in the midst of the Cold War, the country is recovering that same spirit ahead of a summit that will highlight divisions into two blocs of the G20, one led by the US and the other by China and Russia.

For the Indonesian leader, serving his second and last term, the summit will be a success if the dialogue flows smoothly between leaders of the group (formed by Germany, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, the US, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Turkey, and the European Union).

Spain has the status of permanent guest at the G20 and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, will also participate in the Bali summit.

Talks are expected to be more fruitful because, despite his strenuous effort to achieve a full turnout, Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Widodo met in Moscow in June, will not come to Bali, sending Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov instead.

Although countries such as the US urged Indonesia – which has not supported sanctions against Russia but has condemned the invasion and annexation of territories – to withdraw the invitation to Putin, Widodo kept it until the end, also extending it to the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, with the initial hope that the two would meet in Bali.

A discarded meeting that illustrates how Widodo has wanted to raise the diplomatic profile of Indonesia, sometimes criticized for fighting in the geopolitical arena below its weight, with the nation called to become the world’s fourth largest economy in 2045.

Apart from the war in Ukraine, Bali is the setting in which the leaders of the world’s two largest economies, the American Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping, meet for the first time this Monday since the former arrived at the White House.

A meeting marked by the escalation of tensions between the two countries over issues such as Taiwan, which Beijing does not rule out invading and Washington in principle would defend, and trade stumbling blocks, while countries like Indonesia hope that the meeting will help restore regional stability.

“Indonesia’s goal is to have a drama-free summit, and perhaps try to minimize the disruptive effects of the war in Ukraine. The worst case scenario would be that the summit ends in chaos, something I think everyone will try to avoid out of respect for Indonesia,” Indonesian political analyst Yohanes Sulaiman told EFE.

Widodo himself expressed his concern about the growing tension between Beijing and Washington, a position shared by a region, that of Southeast Asia, which advocates maintaining a regional status quo characterized by the security support of the US and the increasingly strong economic ties with China.

Since that formula has worked for Indonesia, whose GDP will grow by about 5 percent this year, Jokowi does not want to lose it, especially given the rise in food and energy prices due to the war, which they have also been felt in a country that imports wheat from the Ukraine and fertilizers from Russia. EFE


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