NEW DELHI: The European Union (EU) supports India’s efforts to finalise a consensus leaders’ declaration for the G20 Summit over the weekend even as it remains “firm and united” in backing Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression, European Council President Charles Michel said on Friday.
Differences between the West and Russia over text to refer to the Ukraine crisis continue to be the main hurdle for a consensus joint communique, and G20 negotiators have been engaged in intensive deliberations over the past few days, often stretching into the early hours of the morning, to reach an elusive compromise.
Michel made it clear while addressing a media briefing ahead of the G20 Summit to be held during September 9-10 that the EU would not back down from supporting Ukraine or imposing penalties on Russia for the invasion.
“I don’t know if this is possible or not to have an agreement on a final communique, we will see. But we will defend our principles and will also support the efforts made by India,” Michel said in response to questions on the possibility of the Ukraine crisis holding up a leaders’ declaration.
Michel said he didn’t want to make a “tough statement”, and instead “give space to the Indian presidency to work actively, maybe sometimes discreetly, to maximise the chance for a communique”. He added, “We hope that it will be possible to have a communique and there is no secret about the position that the EU is defending around the table regarding the war launched by Russia against Ukraine.”
The Indian leadership has consistently called for an immediate cessation of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine and a return to dialogue and diplomacy. India also has not publicly criticised the actions of Russia, which is a key supplier of military hardware and energy.
Michel said Russia is “isolating itself from the international community”, especially since it violated the UN Charter despite being a permanent member of the Security Council. He also pointed to the fallout of the Russian invasion on developing countries in terms of food and energy security, especially after Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
“I sincerely hope this G20 meeting is one more occasion to make the clarity about the Russian behaviour…because by launching this war against Ukraine and by transforming the Black Sea into a battlefield, in fact, Russia is shooting a food missile against the developing countries,” Michel said.
He added, “The Kremlin’s war is also unravelling lives far beyond Ukraine, including right here in South Asia.” With more than 250 million people worldwide facing acute food insecurity, Russia is depriving them of desperately needed grains by attacking Ukraine’s ports, he pointed out.
At the same time, Michel pointed to the EU’s complicated relationship with China, based on engagement on crucial issues such as climate change while simultaneously defending democratic principles. “We think we need to encourage China to play a positive role at the global level and to defend the UN Charter and…the sovereignty of Ukraine,” he said.
Michel further highlighted the need for the G20 to finalise ambitious steps to address global challenges such as climate transition, reforms of global institutions and ensuring a fairer global financial architecture. The G20 Summit highlights the “risk of a bipolar world”, though the bloc is also the platform to support a multipolar approach to a global conversation on climate change, just energy transition and food security, he said.
The G20 also needs to send a strong message ahead of the COP28 in Dubai through sustainable, inclusive and just climate transitions, including the tripling of renewable energy capacity and doubling of energy efficiency by 2030, he said.
“Multilateralism is difficult and frustrating but mutual cooperation is the best guarantee to build a world with more predictability, security, stability and prosperity,” Michel said.