26.7 C
Brunei
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
26.7 C
Brunei
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
More
    - Advertisement -

    Soft-spoken Jokowi emerges as surprise power broker at G20

    ANN/THE STAR – Despite being the world’s fourth-most populous nation and the biggest economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has long punched below its weight on international affairs. That changed at this year’s Group of 20 (G20) summit.

    With a mix of careful diplomacy and good humour, Indonesian President Joko Widodo managed to bring a sense of collegiality to a world riven by conflict and crisis. A meeting that started on the resort island of Bali with high tensions around Ukraine, United States-(US)China relations, climate change and inflation ended with a joint statement that seemed improbable only days before.

    Xi Jinping and Joe Biden exceeded low expectations with an in-person meeting that saw cooperation restored across a range of key areas, stabilising a relationship between the world’s biggest economies that had been drifting toward conflict.

    That set the tone for broader agreement on a statement in which “most members strongly condemned the conflict in Ukraine”.

    The soft-spoken, smiling Indonesian leader known as Jokowi served as a calming presence throughout the world’s most highly anticipated diplomatic showdown. Whether driving leaders around in a golf cart or leading them to plant mangroves in tropical heat, Jokowi set the tone for a successful summit. And to top it off, he walked away with USD20 billion in financing to help Indonesia pivot away from coal.

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo. PHOTO: THE STAR

    “Before this almost everyone was pessimistic,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters on Wednesday. “In previous international meetings everyone else failed, so reaching this declaration that was the consensus by all parties is in my opinion extraordinary.”

    The result was a culmination of months of careful diplomacy. Indonesia, which maintains non-alignment, resisted pressure to isolate Russia. Instead Jokowi flew to Kyiv and Moscow, extending invitations to both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy while becoming the first Asian leader to visit Ukraine since the war began.

    While neither man took up the offer, both countries participated. Putin sent Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was said to have stayed in the room as Zelenskyy addressed the grouping virtually. G20 leaders also remained in their seats when Lavrov addressed the summit despite suggestions ahead of time they might not.

    That marked a contrast from the discord at other gatherings this year. Trade representatives for the US and Russia in May staged a tit-for-tat walkout during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Thailand.

    Just days before the start of the G20, the US and Russia disagreed over the language at a summit hosted by the ASEAN in Cambodia, prompting the meeting to close without a traditional joint statement.

    “Indonesia deserves considerable credit for getting through without any major blow-ups,” said head of the Southeast Asia programme at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies Greg Poling. “After all the political fireworks, they were able to discuss the real issues that Indonesia wanted on the agenda: food security, climate change and energy security. That’s a win.”

    - Advertisement -
    - Advertisement -
    spot_img

    Latest article

    - Advertisement -
    spot_img