he G20 2023 will go down in history as the most successful summit meeting ever not only because its consensual joint declaration which in itself was a rare moment of sorts within a conglomeration of 20 different countries, but considering the geopolitical landscape in the background of Russia Ukraine conflict that has polarized the world and the rising Chinese imperialism, to forge a consensus from the extremely differentiated world order was a challenge. Remember the Bali declaration had failed to come through. To pull off a draft that would bring the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea and NATO nations camped on one side against Russia, China, North Korea, on the other and with other developing countries that were neutral, was beyond expectation. Hectic negotiations over a period of one year since India took over the Presidency, with diplomatic deft from Team India, saw the Joint Declaration come through. It was a historical achievement.
Other major achievements of this summit were the inclusion of African Union in the G20 grouping, the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor that is a rail and ship connectivity corridor, the Bio Fuel Alliance, agreement on UNSC reforms & Climate funding.
On the first day of the summit itself, after the 2 sessions and some meetings, Prime Minister Modi’s announcement that the joint statement was agreed upon with consensus, threw a surprise. Then followed a press conference which confirmed the Declaration adopted. This, when earlier both the Russia-China combine and the West were firm on not budging from their respective position on the Ukraine conflict. Information says that the US was asked to handle the EU and China played a sport in bringing around Russia for a Joint Declaration to work out.
A source said India circulated the final draft to the G20 members on Friday night saying if they do not agree to it, there will be no declaration.
Sources also say the language was so worked on as to be not just acceptable to all countries but be mild and far from harsh. The main point of difference was the Ukraine aspect wherein the term ‘Russian Aggression’ was not acceptable to Russia & China that had the Bali Declaration fall apart. This time the Russia-Ukraine paragraphs did not condemn Russia for its actions, nor did it call it an “aggression”. But the West also got what it wanted.
On the domestic front New Delhi was showcased at its best, it was glitter and glitz all the way. G20 banners & posters dotted the entire capital with Modi’s image welcoming the delegates. Roads skirted with potted plants and newly planted trees with lit up facade, flyovers painted with Indian art, slums hidden with tin sheets, traffic restrictions for common man to the hilt, roads cleaned up and washed, even stray animals and usual beggars on streets vanished for the 2 days and Rs 4000 crore extravaganza.
The venue Bharat Mandapam was a lavish and state of the art structure that showcased India’s prowess as much as its years old culture. The International Media Centre inside the precincts was a sprawling space with wifi and workstations and food, dedicated to international and domestic media was catered to for 24*7 coverage. Interestingly the paradox was that the press was not allowed anywhere near the summit meeting venue, except the official media DD and ANI. So no independent stories or interviews. That’s caged media.
The second day after the fanfare concluded some world leaders held their Press Conferences. US President Biden tweeted after reaching Vietnam, his next stop, that despite request to the PMO about an interaction with the Press after the summit, it was refused. In Vietnam he said he talked about the role of civil society, press freedom & Human Rights to Modi.
French President Macron in a press briefing later in the day at IMC said, we condemn war and that G20 confirms isolation of Russia.
Turkish President Erdogan too held a press briefing. Seen on the side of Russia he said that any initiative to isolate Russia is bound to fail and that he seeks rotating membership of UNSC.
The most awaited interaction was with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Talking to reporters Lavrov said that the summit was a definite success & a ‘breakthrough’ paving the way for the world to move forward.
Canadian PM Trudeau too addressed a press conference. Trudeau said that he is concerned about the strong anti India act of separatists in Canada.
Brazil, that is going to chair the next Presidency of G20 called the summit exceptional. He said, "We will put inequality at the top: inequality of gender, race, education, health, poverty and hunger. The world needs balance."
Ukraine had something else to say about the Declaration, ‘there is nothing to be proud of.’
However this was India’s moment on the global stage. May also be called an exercise aimed at the elections in 2024.