TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - THE G20 Summit will be held in Bali on November 15-16. As G20 President and host, Indonesia has the interest to ensure that the event, which will bring together developed and developing countries, run well. According to Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi, the Summit’s logistical preparations have reached almost 100 percent. Likewise, preparations for its substance.
Holding the G20 presidency during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses a certain challenge to Indonesia. The situation is more complicated than when Australia hosted the G20 Summit in 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. “We will work extra hard so that the G20 can still work amid extraordinary dynamics,” Retno Marsudi told Tempo journalists at her office on Friday, October 21. Retno explained Indonesia’s progress in preparing logistics for the event.
How far along are the G20’s preparations?
In terms of preparations, there are two primary elements. First, logistical preparations are managed by the coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment. We’re all also involved. Preparations are almost at 100 percent. Not only 20 countries (are invited), a total of 39 countries are invited, each with significant delegations.
Second, the substance of what will be discussed. Throughout these 11 months, there have been 187 meetings, which means 95 percent of the total meetings have been completed. Out of the 187, 18 are ministerial-level meetings, including of foreign ministers and finance ministers. And 234 side events have been concluded, so it’s 92 percent. As a whole, we’re ready to serve as a host.
Of course, the main event will be extremely crucial. Negotiations are still ongoing. Initially, intersessional sherpa track meetings would be last. But we’ll see the results. If many (issues) are pending, we would need one more intersessional meeting. So, on November 10-13, there will be a series of sherpa meetings.
Is all negotiation agenda scheduled to finish before the heads of state arrive?
Yes, the hope is that when the heads of state meet, there won’t be a need for more negotiations. In many G20 conferences before, the negotiation teams still met while the heads of state had their sessions. We’ll try to conclude (negotiations) before the Summit. G20 negotiations are never easy. We know that the current situation is especially difficult.
Has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine somewhat significantly impacted the G20’s agenda?
Not somewhat, but very much so.
What about the attendance of G20 heads of state? Has there been confirmation?
So far, not one has responded very negatively. Negative, as in, sending a note of absence. That hasn’t happened yet. Everyone is positive. Some have sent a diplomatic memo confirming attendance, but there are also some who we know will come, although they haven’t sent a diplomatic memo.
Other challenges are factors beyond our control, such as several G20 countries that are facing political dynamics in their own countries at the same time.
President Joko Widodo visited Moscow to meet with Putin. Is it certain that Putin will come?
He didn’t state the negative, never said, “Apologies, I won’t come.” Nothing like that. But we know exactly what the challenge is. So, once again, we know, understand the challenge of every (country). But, so far, we have not received a negative response, so we’ll continue to stay positive, optimistic.
When Jokowi met with Zelenskyy, did the latter confirm attendance?
We invited him to the Summit. But, again, President Zelenskyy has never fulfilled an invitation in person because, well, you know, it would be difficult for him to leave his country, which is at war. So, we’ll wait. But he did say he would attend. The thing is, what form of attendance? In-person or will he be given a special opportunity because of a specific situation, so that he may deliver his message virtually?
Is the Ukraine-Russia issue included in the G20 agenda?
The G20 is not a political forum. It’s a finance, economic, and development forum. But you can’t build a steel wall between economics and geopolitics, can’t (separate the two). So, I can anticipate that the Ukraine issue will surface in the first session when we talk about energy and food, which have been significantly impacted because of the war in Ukraine.
Are you also anticipating the possibility of a boycott by the United States and Europe if Putin attends?
This question has emerged since the war broke out. This is a normal question. This is the point where we can begin to negotiate. I can state that communication is one of our strengths. We spoke openly to all G20 members. We expressed our position clearly.
Even if you want to (exclude a certain member), would that first be decided at the Summit?
Go ahead. But we know that the differences are very wide, deep, and that’s why we’re working through the power of communication. It’s not about our presidency. The presidency is only for one year. It would be too selfish for us to only talk about the presidency. What we want to secure is the G20, because there have been numerous multilateral forums that have not yielded results because they have been held hostage by geopolitical issues. Indonesia’s wish is for (everyone) to work together so that the G20 produces something because the world is longing for G20’s results.
What key issues are expected to get results at the end of the Summit?
The key issues will certainly be in line with our priorities, which are health, digital transformation, and energy transition.
What is our stance in regard to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
We’ve been very consistent. Our position in regard to territorial integrity and sovereignty is very clear, evident, and consistent. If, when we say this, some are offended, we apologize. But we have to take a stance. We have consistently stated that all countries are obligated to honor the sovereignty, territory, and territorial integrity of other countries. The UN Charter clearly states this.
Read the Full Interview in Tempo English Magazine
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