G20: downward agreement on war; Meloni to Li, continue with the dialogue

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By John

The G20 condemns the use of force in the Ukrainian conflict, but without mentioning Russia. And the downward compromise that leaders reach after exhausting negotiations of the Sherpas lasted all night and ended at dawn to obtain the green light from Moscow and Beijing and avoid closing the summit without an agreed text. The host, Narendra Modi, he claims victory for having managed to close the agreement and get the declaration approved by all the leaders. But the substance is a step backwards compared to last year’s Bali summit, when the condemnation for Moscow’s aggression was decidedly clearer. “There is nothing to be proud of”, is the immediate reaction from Kiev, still smart for the failure to invite the Ukrainian president to the summit Volodimyr Zelensky.

On the sidelines of the Delhi summit, the prime minister Giorgia Meloni had a series of bilateral talks, the most important of which with the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Qiang. From the face-to-face meeting it emerges that Italy’s progressive distancing from the Silk Road agreement does not call into question the agreement between Rome and Beijing nor “the common intention to consolidate and deepen the dialogue on the main bilateral and international issues”. «Both with a thousand-year history, Italy and China share a Global Strategic Partnership whose twentieth anniversary will be celebrated next year and which will constitute the beacon for the advancement of friendship and collaboration between the two Nations in every sector of common interest », says the government. The Chinese position is more cautious, which through the mouth of the ambassador in Rome states that “a healthy reaction between the two countries is in the interests of China and Italy” but asks the government to provide “a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment so that Chinese companies can invest and develop in Italy.”

Meloni, who also saw Modi and the Korean president Yoon Su-yeol, she spoke in the opening session of the summit in the morning, assuring the government’s commitment to supporting African countries: Italy will allocate over 70% of its climate fund to Africa, the prime minister said. «This means 3 billion euros over the next 5 years, equally allocated to mitigation and adaptation initiatives», assured Meloni, reiterating the government’s commitment to carrying forward the Mattei Plan for Africa.

After a tormented eve and with the final declaration at risk, the G20 leaders manage to hide their secrets deep divisions over the war in Ukraine and the fight against climate change, with a statement with much softer language towards the Kremlin, avoiding direct criticism of Moscow, and avoiding any concrete commitment to the elimination of polluting fossil fuels. Under strong pressure from India, the leaders agreed to denounce the use of force “to achieve territorial acquisitions against the territorial integrity, sovereignty or political independence of any state”, but did not put down any reference explicit about Russian aggression. European countries and the USA had asked not to water down the Bali declaration, but in the end India’s mediation prevailed, in line with Moscow’s expectations.

Even on the climate, the compromise reached in the final declaration is minimal and there is no commitment to phase out polluting fuels: G20 countries commit to tripling renewable energy sources by 2030, but phasing out coal and fossil fuels will be “gradual” and “in line with national circumstances,” the final declaration reads.
Modi, who for the first time in history wanted his country to present itself on the international scene with the Hindu name of ‘Bharat’ to tickle his hard core of Hindu-majority voters, thanked the leaders for their “hard work” and achieved good success, ideally placing himself at the helm of the South of the world bloc. The Indian leader brings home the G20’s decision to admit the African Union, which represents 1.4 billion people and 55 countries, as a permanent member of the gathering of the great. The African Union.

Finally, on the sidelines of the summit, the signing of a memorandum of notable economic and strategic importance: a rail and maritime infrastructure ‘economic corridor’ linking India, the Middle East and Europe. The project would reconfigure trade between the Persian Gulf and South Asian countries and would be a victory for the United States Joe Biden who seek to counter the influence of China’s «One Belt, One Road» initiative. «The launch today of the new Economic Corridor between India, the Middle East and Europe represents a milestone in strengthening global connections – said Meloni – our economies will be even more connected, releasing enormous potential for businesses, with mutual benefits and the Italy can play a decisive role, thanks also to the strength of its companies in the maritime and railway sectors.”