Jakarta weighs US demand to expel Russia from G-20

Tria Dianti
2022.04.07
Jakarta
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Jakarta weighs US demand to expel Russia from G-20 United States President Joe Biden (first from left, front row) and Indonesian President Joko Widodo (sixth from left, front row) pose with other world leaders during a group photo at the G-20 Summit in Rome, Oct. 30, 2021.
[AFP]

Indonesia is considering how to respond to U.S. and Western calls to expel Russia from the G-20, an official said Thursday, after Washington announced it would boycott some of the group’s meetings if Russian officials attended.

Indonesia, this year’s holder of the rotating presidency of the Group of Twenty major economies, said earlier that it had invited all member-nations to attend the G-20 summit in Bali in November.

But on Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that the United States would withdraw from some G-20 meetings if Russia was allowed to participate, adding that President Joe Biden wanted Russia out of the grouping for its invasion of Ukraine.

At a news conference on Thursday, the spokesman for Indonesia’s communications ministry commented on this demand by the U.S. and other Western countries.

“We are studying it. It needs a careful consideration from us as the holder of the G-20 presidency on how to respond to it,” Dedy Permadi said.

“We will announce [our position] to the public when the time comes,” he said, hours before the United Nations General Assembly voted for a resolution to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council by a two-thirds majority. Indonesia was among U.N. member-states that abstained from the vote.

America’s Yellen had said that Biden had been very clear “that it cannot be business as usual for Russia in any of the financial institutions,” Reuters news agency reported.

“He’s asked that Russia be removed from the G-20, and I’ve made clear to my colleagues in Indonesia that we will not be participating in a number of meetings if the Russians are there.”

A gathering of finance ministers and central bank governors is scheduled for April 20-21 on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

Indonesia is scheduled to host a G-20 meeting of finance ministers in July and a leaders’ summit in Bali on Nov. 15-16.

In Moscow on Thursday, the Kremlin said it would decide on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would participate in the summit based on how events evolved, according to Reuters.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah, declined to comment on Yellen’s remarks.

“Let’s not speculate. Things are evolving,” he told BenarNews.

“Indonesia hopes that a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict can be achieved soon,” he said.

Faizasyah later told a news conference that Indonesia was still anticipating that all member countries would be represented at all G-20 meetings.

“Since February 22, Indonesia has sent invitations to all G20 member countries, to save the date,” Faizasyah said.

“We have conducted our G-20 presidency based on precedents and are still hoping for the presence of all G20 members in the entire G-20 series of meetings, be it the financial meeting track or the sherpa track,” he said, using a term that refers to a personal representative of a government leader attending summit-level meetings.

He said that the government had been communicating at the highest level with other member countries to elicit their views and make Indonesia’s stance known.

Meanwhile, citing unnamed sources, Kyodo News Service reported that G-20 finance ministers have decided not to issue a joint statement at the end of their meeting on April 20 in Washington.

Faizasyah said a joint statement was not a requirement and could be replaced by a summary of the meeting.

Also on Thursday, Indonesia said it supported an independent investigation into the killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha allegedly by Russian forces.

“We deeply regret the civilian and military deaths and are deeply concerned,” Faizasyah said.

“Indonesia strongly supports what has been proposed by the U.N. secretary general and UNHCR regarding an investigation into war excesses in Ukraine,” he added, referring to the United Nations and its refugee agency.

Local officials say that Russian forces killed more than 300 people in Bucha.

The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of war crimes. The Kremlin has rejected the accusations and claims these are Ukrainian propaganda. Russia says its forces have never targeted civilians.

Dilemma for Indonesia

According to Hassan Wirajuda, a former Indonesian foreign minister, Indonesia’s G-20 presidency is experiencing a difficult dilemma.

“Will the G20 [summit] go according to plan? If Putin attends, Western countries will boycott. It’s between a rock and a hard place,” he told an online seminar.

He said he hoped that between now and November, there would be a political settlement to the conflict through negotiations mediated by Turkey.

“If in November [the war] is not over yet, it will complicate Indonesia’s G-20 presidency,” he said.

“It’s bad for Indonesia at a time when the G-20 presidency is supposed to raise its profile. But even if the summit doesn’t happen, it’s not Indonesia’s fault,” he added.

Rizal Sukma, a senior researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta, said the war is a test of Indonesia’s G-20 leadership.

“It is important for Indonesia that the G-20 address the economic implications of the conflict,” he said.

“It is also important for Indonesia to ensure that all member countries commit to attending [the summit],” he said.

“If there is no commitment, then Indonesia should cancel the event.”

Dandy Koswaraputra in Jakarta contributed to this article.

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