Indonesia President tells G20 now is not the time for geopolitical tension

The opening address by Indonesian President Joko Widodo (on screen) during the opening of the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Jakarta on Feb 17, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG/REUTERS) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday (Feb 17) called for collaboration between countries to promote a global economic recovery and said now was not the time to create geopolitical tensions such as the situation happening in Ukraine.

“This is not the time for rivalry, nor is it the time to create new tensions that disrupt the world’s recovery, let alone endanger the safety of the world, as is happening in Ukraine today,” he said.

“All parties must stop the rivalry and tension, we must focus on synergising, collaborating to save and resurrect the world to quickly rise and recover.”

The president made the remarks at the opening of a meeting of finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies hosted by Indonesia.

His remarks echo concerns that an invasion of Ukraine would have far-reaching consequences.

Kyiv’s Western allies say Russia has massed as many as 150,000 troops on its neighbour’s borders in a possible precursor to an attack and are voicing reservations about announcements from the Kremlin that it is withdrawing some forces. 

“All countries are connected to each other, no one is isolated,” Widodo said. “The rise of one region will revive another region, the collapse of one region will also bring down other regions.”

Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and supports separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, says it has no plans to invade.

President Vladimir Putin has made clear that the order had been given only for a “partial” pullback and suggested that a full return to base would depend on how talks with the West go.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the situation was “deeply concerning” and it was in the collective interest that these tensions are resolved.

“We call upon Russia to de-escalate the situation for the alternative would be disastrous in human and economic terms,” he told the G-20 conference of ministers. 

The Group of 20 consists of the European Union and 19 countries with the biggest industrialised and emerging economies.

The US, which last week released a strategy for the Indo-Pacific region as a means to counter China’s growing influence, is concerned Beijing will try to take advantage of the tensions between Russia and Ukraine. 

“We stand for a world and a vision grounded in problem solving and innovation, not coercion and aggression,” US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Kritenbrink said during a briefing on Thursday.

“I think it stands in stark contrast to the vision of others, including that put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping,” he added.

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