The G20 Summit-2022 was held at Nusa Dua, Bali, the renowned tourist resort of Indonesia from 15-16 November 2022. The presidency of the Group had already been handed-over to Indonesia on December 1, 2021 by Italy at the closing ceremony of the Rome Summit. The Indonesian government made extraordinary security and protocol arrangements for which $45 million had been allocated in their present year’s budget. It was speculated that by holding this event in Bali, Indonesia aimed to rehabilitate the Covid-19-devastated tourist industry of the country.
The summit was basically meant to focus on pandemic-caused issues and economic recovery and; the motto of the conference ‘Recover Together Recover Stronger’ reflected the nature of its agenda. However, due to the perturbation of the G20’s key players over the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the issue kept on overshadowing the pre-scheduled proceedings. Months before the summit, Poland, Canada and Ukraine had initiated the demand to exclude Russia from the G20 or at least to keep it away from the Bali conference. The US was in support of the move however in a diplomatic and mild manner. Nonetheless, China categorically rejected the anti-Russia proposals and declared that no member was authorized to remove another member from the group; whatever might be the background. The host country i.e. Indonesia continued reminding that the member states should remain focused on the unanimously agreed agenda and avoid making the meeting controversial. President Joko Widodo of Indonesia underwent a hectic diplomatic exercise to ensure the participation of all the members and observers even if President Putin attends the event. Despite this arrangement, in order to circumvent any embarrassing situation, President Putin on 10 November, five days prior to the occasion, very wisely announced to skip it and designated Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to represent Russia. As all the necessary measures had been taken beforehand the proceedings of the conference, more or less, remained smooth and stable.
Apart from the inside activity many important developments took-place on the side-lines. The Bali summit provided the opportunity to Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping to hold a 3-hour meeting on 14 November: the first-ever since assumption of office by the incumbent US President. It helped to ease-out an on-going tension between the two great powers ignited by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit dated 2 August, 2022. Though, it was resolved that there would not be a recommencement of ‘Cold War’ between the US and China, the two leaders could not develop an understanding on the Taiwan issue; which was the real bone of contention. They also could not see eye to eye on the questions relating to trade restrictions and technology transfers; nevertheless, the two decided to keep communications open and avoid confrontation. The presidents also discussed the possibility of nuclear weapons use by Russia against Ukraine and they agreed that in no case Russia should resort to this extreme. Chinese President Xi Jinping remained particularly active and outreached Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron. However, an interaction with the British Premier Rishi Sunak could not take place due to scheduling constraints. A NATO/G27 meeting was also held, in between, on emergent basis to discuss Russia’s barbaric missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure on 15 November. The action was condemned by the member states in serious words. Another session of G7/NATO leaders on 16 November on the margins of G20 debated a missile explosion in Poland.
The Bali summit showed grave concern on the fall-out of Covid-19 and climate change which have slowed the global economy, increased poverty and hindered the achievement of ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs). It was acknowledged that G20 was not a forum to resolve security issues however the conference stressed that Ukraine war had adversely impacted the global economy. The participants agreed on the measures to mitigate the aftermath of the war; particularly they resolved to keep supply chains functioning and appreciated the ‘Black Sea Grain Initiative’ brokered by the UN and Turkiye. To meet the climate change challenges, the assembly underlined urgency to rapidly transform and diversify energy systems as per provisions of ‘Paris Agreement’. In his virtual address, President Volodymyr Zelensky referred the organization as the ‘G19’ in a snub against Russia. The Russian Foreign Minister condemned the US-led western delegates for ‘politicization’ of the meeting. The event brought a good news for the host country in the form of a commitment by the G7 countries plus EU, Denmark and Norway to provide $20 billion to decarbonize Indonesia’s coal-powered economy.
The drafting of the final communique after a high-level conference is always a delicate matter and so was with the G20-2022. Russia opposed the usage of the word ‘war’ to describe its invasion of Ukraine upon which the draft was tailored accordingly. Though it was highlighted that most of the members condemned the Russian attack, it was simultaneously acknowledged that ‘there were other views and different assessments of the situation’ as well.
The diplomatic efforts of the Indonesian President Joko Widodo, from the issue of Russian participation to the conclusion of final communique’s draft, which made the summit successful were applauded by the international media generously. On the other hand, Joko appreciated the co-operative behavior of G20 leaders and stated that all had shown ‘flexibility’. Nonetheless, some quarters raised eye-brows on the exorbitant spending of Indonesian government to organize the event in this period of economic crisis. This concern might be partially correct but keeping in view the cost-benefit ratio it merits to be ignored. The occasion provided opportunity to important world leaders to discuss and decide issues relating to Covid-19’s backwash particularly economic crisis; plan joint response to climate change challenges and enable the US and China to reduce the inter-country tension.