Indonesia declines to say whether Ukraine’s president invited to G-20 summit

BenarNews staff
2022.04.28
Washington and Jakarta
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Indonesia declines to say whether Ukraine’s president invited to G-20 summit Indonesian President Joko Widodo (left) and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi talk during a photo session at last year’s G-20 summit, at the La Nuvola in Rome, Oct. 30, 2021
Reuters

Indonesia on Thursday declined to confirm that it had invited Ukraine to the G-20 summit despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s tweet the day before thanking President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo for the invite.

Separately, the White House said Wednesday it too had not received news from Indonesia about an invitation to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but reiterated that invader nation and G-20 member Russia shouldn’t be asked to the summit, while non-member Ukraine should be. 

On Thursday, Jokowi confirmed he had spoken to Zelenskyy a day earlier, but did not refer to the November G-20 summit being held in Bali. Indonesia is this year’s president of the Group of 20 of the world’s largest economies. 

“Yesterday I spoke to President Zelenskyy of Ukraine. I reiterated Indonesia’s support to any efforts for peace negotiations to succeed and stand ready to provide humanitarian assistance,” Jokowi said via Twitter. 

Dian Triansyah Djani, a senior Indonesian foreign ministry official, confirmed that Jokowi and Zelenskyy had spoken over the phone.

“The outcome of the discussions between the two heads of state will be announced directly by the palace,” was all he said. 

However, on Wednesday, Zelenskyy had tweeted saying Jokowi had invited him to the November G-20 summit. 

“Had talks with President Jokowi. Thanked [him] for the support of [Ukrainian] sovereignty and territorial integrity, in particular for a clear position in the UN. Food security issues were discussed. Appreciate inviting me to the G-20 summit.” 

Also on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that she had read reports on Zelenskyy’s statement about the invitation but had not heard from Indonesia about it. 

“Well, we’ve seen the reports that President Zelenskyy has been invited to the G-20.  And we certainly welcome that. … But we don’t have further confirmation beyond the news reports, which we certainly think are positive,” she told reporters. 

Psaki also noted that President Joe Biden said last month that Ukraine should be able to participate in the G-20 summit. 

“And as he also said last month … he doesn’t think Russia should be invited, but, ultimately, it’s a decision for the G-20,” she said. 

“And we’ve reached out, of course, to Indonesia, as you noted, who’s hosting the summit.  But we don’t have any other additional details.” 

Zelenskyy’s announcement about being invited to the meeting in Bali may have broken protocol. It came four days after he unilaterally announced that the U.S. secretaries of state and defense were coming to Kyiv the next day for meetings with him. Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin met with him in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, but the Biden administration kept their visit shrouded in secrecy ahead of time, according to news reports. 

Biden had told reporters last month in Brussels that Russia, which invaded neighbor Ukraine on Feb. 24, should be expelled from the G-20. 

“And I raised the possibility, if that can’t be done – if Indonesia and others do not agree, then we should, in my view, ask to have both Ukraine be able to attend the meetings, as well as – well, basically Ukraine being able to attend the G20 meetings and observe.” 

The U.S. went a step further on April 6, saying that it would boycott some of the group’s meetings if Russian officials attended, which it then did later in the month. 

On April 20, several nations, including Ukraine and the United States, walked out when Russian officials addressed a G-20 meeting convened by Indonesia in Washington. Indonesia had invited all members, including Russia, to attend the group’s meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs in Washington on that day. 

‘Kowtowing to the United States’ demand’ 

On Tuesday, Bloomberg news service reported that the U.S. and some other countries were frustrated with Indonesia, so far, not having withdrawn an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the G-20 summit, and were therefore pressing Jakarta to invite Ukraine as a guest.

Asked about the possibility of Putin attending the G-20 summit, Dian, the senior Indonesian foreign ministry official, said Thursday: “The summit is still a long way off. This will be answered in time.”

Hikmahanto Juwana, an international law lecturer at the University of Indonesia, said inviting Ukraine to the G-20 summit would be a wise decision.

“This should be welcomed. That’s better than kowtowing to the United States’ demand for Russia to be expelled from the G-20,” Hikmahanto told BenarNews.

Indonesia should seek assurances from the U.S. and its allies that they would not boycott the G-20 summit if Russia is represented, he said. Likewise, Indonesia should ask Russia to accept Ukraine’s participation in the summit, he added.

Nanto Sriyanto, an international political observer at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), said the Ukraine issue would test Indonesia’s presidency of the G-20.

“Indonesia must be able to navigate the interests of Russia and those of countries that are against Russia so that the G-20 meeting can proceed well,” Nanto told BenarNews.

Nanto said the United Nations was the right forum to discuss the Ukrainian-Russia conflict, while the G-20 was established as an economic grouping.

“Indonesia would do well to stick to the G-20’s purpose, by for example focusing the discussions on the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on the global economic stability,” Nanto said.

Indonesia had voted for a U.N. General Assembly resolution that condemned Moscow’s military strike on Ukraine. But, at the same time, Jakarta has not directly criticized Russia or used the word “invasion.” 

Arie Firdaus in Jakarta contributed to this report.

 

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