Was the G20 summit this weekend a diplomatic success or a letdown? Beyond the answer to this question, the shift we saw there might also mean that, in the future, it might be harder to drive home Western points on Ukraine.
This weekend’s G20 talks in Delhi ended with a hard-won compromise declaration – and with the omission of any specific reference to Russia’s role as an aggressor in the war in Ukraine.
Compared to the language in Bali from November 2022, the final communiqu? no longer included wording referring to a United Nations resolution that cited aggression by Russia and a call for withdrawal from Ukraine.
Combined with the fact that Brazil’s President Luiz In?cio Lula da Silva, the host of next year’s G20 talks, said Russian President Vladimir Putin would not be arrested if he attended the summit in Rio de Janeiro, the picture looked rather grim.
Brazil is, after all, a signatory to the Rome Statute, which led to the founding of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has a pending arrest warrant against Putin.
There are now two strands of thought on this.
On the one hand, European officials involved in the negotiations said afterwards that there is “nothing problematic” in the wording and that the communiqu? would “not change our [the EU’s] position”.
Speaking to the press, French President Emmanuel Macron put on a brave face, saying, “G20 is not the forum for political discussions”. In other words, the battle is to be fought elsewhere.
Given the deep divides over Ukraine, the West was prepared to pay a price to save the functionality of G20 and keep cooperation alive with countries of the Global South, which might prove well-needed in the coming months.
The Delhi Declaration demonstrated political commitment to the demands of the Global South to strengthen multilateral development banks and address unsustainable debt, plus giving the green light for the accession of the African Union to the group.
Over the past year, several non-Western economies – China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and South Africa – have positioned themselves as potential mediators on Ukraine. It is not something the West can ignore much longer.
A flop in Delhi caused by the West’s over-insistence, one European diplomat involved in the negotiations said, would have been a major problem for working on consensus in the future.
On the other hand, some worry that the growing gap between declaration language and reality might now spread to other forums.
“The difficulties we saw for the West to run its point home on Ukraine at G20 could come at a higher price than we think – it might mean that we’re slowly losing our argumentative base,” said one European diplomat from a non-G20 country.
The big test for the West’s power of outreach will come at next week’s UN General Assembly in New York.
Expectations are to see Europeans and the Ukrainians make serious and concerted attempts to woo non-Western countries.
This is not about suddenly making them argue publicly for Ukraine’s team, but about keeping them signed up to the UN consensus, which has worked well so far in all of the resolutions passed within the body.
With Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy trying to gather support for his much-touted ten-point peace plan, it is also about bringing more of the newly confident batch of non-Western developing countries on board with the concept.
Five candidates have come forward for the post of president of the huge European Investment Bank, Belgian Finance Minister Vincent van Peteghem said on Friday, the first of several top European Union jobs which member governments will haggle over in the next 12 months.
The intensity of Storm Daniel, which hit Central Greece last week, has swept away the minimal work done to prevent flooding in Thessaly, three years after a cyclone laid waste to the same region, raising questions over preparedness.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is running out of time to shape a joint Franco-German legacy with French President Emmanuel Macron, with worries growing that his distanced approach to Paris will yield an era of stagnation in the relationship.
The European Union warned Russia on Monday that there would be “consequences” for those involved in staging elections in Ukrainian regions seized by the Kremlin.
Russian nationals can no longer cross into the EU with their cars, otherwise, their vehicles should be confiscated by the respective member state, it became clear on Monday after the European Commission was asked to explain a recent update of the EU sanctions policy.
Look out for…
European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg Monday-Thursday, including Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the European Union address on Wednesday.
Von der Leyen meets with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday.
Approval of the appointment of Iliana Ivanova as member of the European Commission on Tuesday.
Views are the author’s
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic/Alice Taylor]