Lawmakers urge G-20 president Indonesia to broker Russia-Ukraine peace talks

Dandy Koswaraputra
2022.04.06
Jakarta
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Lawmakers urge G-20 president Indonesia to broker Russia-Ukraine peace talks Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo gives a speech at the launch of the first public electric vehicle charging station, which will be used for electric vehicles transporting world leaders during the G-20 conference in October this year, in Nusa Dua, Bali, March 25, 2022.
[AFP]

Indonesian legislators urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Wednesday to use his influence as this year’s G-20 president to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine by calling a meeting of their leaders.

Indonesia, the 2022 holder of the Group of Twenty’s rotating presidency, risks dividing the grouping of the world’s leading economies through its decision to invite Russia to the G-20 summit in Bali in October, the lawmakers told Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi during a parliamentary hearing.

“I see an opportunity [for Indonesia to broker peace]. I hope President Jokowi will meet with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine,” said Effendi Simbolon, a member of parliament from the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan).

Indonesia is torn between appearing to take a side and not inviting Russia’s Vladimir Putin, or inviting him and risking a boycott by Western G-20 member countries that oppose Moscow’s war in Ukraine, said another lawmaker, Syariefuddin Hasan of the Democratic Party.

“If it’s just business as usual, that [boycott] may well happen, considering that Russia has violated another country’s sovereignty,” he said.

Last month, a foreign ministry official, Dian Triansyah Djani, said that Indonesia had sent invitations to all member countries to attend the G-20 summit, including Russia.

The United States and other Western countries want Russia to be removed from the G-20 because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and for Indonesia not to invite him to the Bali summit.

But in March, Russia’s ambassador to Indonesia said that Putin planned to attend the meeting.

Ukraine, which is not a G-20 member, had previously urged Indonesia to include discussions on the invasion during the summit. But at the time, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Jakarta’s stance was “that the G-20 summit should focus on global economic issues.”

On March 2, Indonesia voted for a U.N. resolution that condemned Russia’s military strike on Ukraine. However, Jakarta has not directly criticized Moscow or used the word “invasion” since then.

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, resulting in at least more than 4 million Ukrainians fleeing the country.

During a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in China last week, Retno urged Moscow to stop the war in Ukraine, citing the urgent humanitarian situation and the conflict’s ripple effects on the world economy. Retno said she also asked Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to support efforts to end the Russian invasion during a separate meeting on the same day.

‘The war must be stopped’

On Wednesday, Mukhlis Basri, a member of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, asked Retno what steps the ministry had taken to help restore peace in Ukraine.

In responding, Retno emphasized that Indonesia had been consistent in supporting Ukraine and was considering sending humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country.

She said Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova had requested humanitarian assistance from all countries, including Indonesia, especially in food items amid dwindling supplies.

“The war must be stopped immediately,” Retno said at the hearing.

“Indonesia hopes that negotiations between Russia and Ukraine will be intensified to seek a peaceful settlement and that both parties need to carry out a ceasefire so that humanitarian assistance can be provided,” she said.

Makhlis, of the foreign affairs committee, also asked Retno whether in such a situation it was “possible for the G20 meeting to be postponed.”

Retno didn’t respond but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there had been no discussions to postpone the G-20 summit.

“So far, planning is still on schedule,” Teuku Faizasyah, a spokesman for the ministry, told BenarNews.

During the hearing, lawmaker Fadli Zon warned that global economic consequences would be severe if the conflict was not stopped.

“The West has called for Russia to be suspended from the U.N. Human Rights Council. Indonesia must play a role in promoting a just world order as mandated by our constitution,” Fadli said.

During peace talks in Istanbul last week, Russian negotiators agreed to “fundamentally” cut back operations near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, news agencies reported.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed Russia’s pledge and vowed to keep fighting the invading forces.

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