The Indonesian President Joko Widodo has invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the G20 Summit 2022 at Bali in November this year. This is a good move.
Since last March Indonesia has faced pressure as the current president of the Group of 20 (G20), an intergovernmental forum focused on major issues surrounding the world economy, from Western countries to invite Ukraine to the next Summit meeting at Bali.
Russia has invaded Ukraine since the 24th of February 2022 and today, over 14 thousand people have died. There are even accusations of war crimes towards President Putin regarding mass killings in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.
The pressure from the United States (US), Canada, Australia and more follow Indonesia’s decision to not exclude Russia from the G20 Summit. The countries hoping to invite Ukraine to the Summit are mostly members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), whose expansion into Eastern Europe partly backgrounds the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
President Joko Widodo, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi, as well as ministry spokespersons have stated that their decision to include Russia is in effort to conduct their responsibilities as G20 president professionally and with neutrality.
In response, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs further monitored developments in the Russo-Ukrainian War and finally made the decision to invite Ukraine. As president of the global forum, Indonesia has the powers to specially invite members outside the G20.
G20 Co-Sherpa Dian Triansyah Djani highlighted how Indonesia has led international organisations around the world on several occasions, always adhering to procedures including inviting all members and consulting them for major decisions. Several Indonesian ministers have already held consultations with all parties on a bilateral basis.
Members of the G20 initially looked split on boycotting the Summit if Ukraine was not going to be invited while Russia still attends. While Western G20 members who are part of NATO have not explicitly mentioned walking out, they neither look excited to attend the Summit alongside Russia. It seems at least to countries like the US, Russia still attending the G20 Summit is more of a deal-breaker than Ukraine not being invited.
Meanwhile, several ‘middle power’ nations are focused on the G20’s agenda regardless of the Russo-Ukrainian War. The interests of countries like India, Brazil, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia in regards to this Summit are not aligned with the West and their focus on the Eastern European conflict.
The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Minister Marsudi already held several rounds of consultation with domestic groups focused on geopolitics and other G20 members. Furthermore, Marsudi has consulted the European Union as well as Foreign Ministers from Germany and Italy on this matter.
Their goal was clear: gauge and map the prospects and risks of hosting both Ukraine and Russia at the Bali Summit while gathering perspectives of G20 members and other international institutions. This decision was a dilemma but also a rare diplomatic opportunity.
There are three reasons why inviting Ukraine was a good decision. Inviting Ukraine to support its recovery and sovereignty is in line with Indonesia’s non-bloc history, its values to maintain world peace and order today, and is beneficial for its future on the global stage.
Being a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) since 1961, Indonesia along with Egypt, India, Ghana and the former Yugoslavia have convened in the past to ensure the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries.
Through NAM, Indonesia showed it is against all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power politics. Today, Ukraine is caught between of Russia and NATO yet its voice and aspirations are mostly ignored by the two.
Hence, Indonesians must not tolerate Russia’s invasion and violence towards Ukraine, moreover its vision to forcibly reintegrate Ukraine based on Putin’s self-declared myths. Indonesia and many post-colonial nations understand the dangers of irredentism, especially based off violent histories. In this regard, Indonesia understands the plight of Ukraine and should support its sovereignty and recovery.
Even written in Indonesia’s Constitution Preamble is “… to form an Indonesian State Government that protects the entire Indonesian nation and… participate in the implementation of world order based on independence, lasting peace and social justice.”
Not only does Indonesia’s past and values today demand Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, the rare opportunity presented to Indonesia as G20 president to invite Ukraine will impact our future global presence and partnerships.
Beyond global recognition, the G20 presidency can bring other benefits to Indonesia like attracting international business and collaborations. Indonesia’s short time as G20 President has already coincided with record-high foreign direct investment within a quarter according to the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board.
It can even further improve Indonesia’s joint efforts towards global issues like COVID-19 by strengthening its pharmaceutical industry. Within two weeks of becoming G20 President, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken even visited Jakarta to outline US Indo-Pacific interests in the region. Indonesia would have risked these benefits if they did not invite Ukraine to the G20 Summit.
The political success of the G20 Summit in Bali will heavily determine trust in Indonesia’s international standing and the future of its international partnerships. Inviting Ukraine to the G20 Summit displayed Indonesia’s bold leadership, integrity, and will lead it to prosperity.
- - The writer is a Junior Researcher at the Center for Peace Conflict and Democracy, Hasanuddin University, and an International Relations and Peace Studies Graduate at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan.