This week, the G20 leaders from the world’s most important industrial and emerging nations met in Bali for a two-day summit, hosted by the Indonesian G20 presidency. This year, the theme was “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”, with leaders committing to mitigating the COVID-19 effects by supporting sustainable, strong and inclusive growth.
The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the European Council Charles Michel attended on behalf of the EU. In his preliminary remarks, Charles Michel stressed that “this G20 takes place in a very different world from our meeting last year in Rome”, referring to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, chose to stay away from the summit. Instead, the country’s foreign minister, Sergej Lavrov, was sent off to Bali.
Nonetheless, Russia’s attack on Ukraine overshadowed the two-day meeting in Bali and was a key topic of the summit, with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy taking part in a video connection. In it, he strongly condemnedthe “crazy threats of nuclear weapons” that Russian officials have resorted to. The Ukrainian President called on global counterparts to follow Ukraine’s peace plan during the summit in Indonesia: “I am completely convinced that the devastating Russian war must and can be stopped […] it will save thousands of lives.”
The G20 Heads of State and Government also found clear words on the subject of nuclear weapons. “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is prohibited.” Recently, the illegal annexation of four occupied Ukrainian territories had fueled concerns that Putin could use nuclear weapons.
Aside from Russia’s war on Ukraine, other key topics at the summit included the food and energy crises. The Western countries have not achieved great success in questions concerning energy security, which is currently endangered – especially in Europe – by the drastically reduced supplies of Russian oil and gas. The G20 also expressed “deep concern” about the global food crisis but have shown that they are committed to the continuation of the agreement on the export of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea. President Zelenskyy called for an extension without an expiration date of this international grain agreement. Moreover, the G20 leaders want to step up their efforts to protect the climate – the G20 countries themselves are responsible for 80 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.
The G20 adopted a final declaration at the Bali summit in which the vast majority of members strongly condemned Russia’s war against Ukraine. The declaration also referred to “other challenges including climate change, which has caused economic downturn, increased poverty, slowed global recovery, and hindered the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”