Club card: why the G20 has become more effective than the UN

The G20 has become an effective platform for discussing pressing political and economic issues . This conclusion was made at a meeting in the Japanese city of Nagoya by G20 foreign ministers. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in today’s difficult conditions, the “Group of Twenty” has become the most optimal format for finding solutions and discussing problems of the world economy and global trade due to wide country representation . In addition to participating in the general program, the chief of Russian diplomacy held a series of bilateral negotiations, in particular with the future US ambassador to Russia John Sullivan.

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Equal Among Equals

The G20 club, created back in 1999 at the level of ministries of finance and central banks as a reaction to the crisis in the global economy, after 2008, when they decided to hold the forum for the first time with the participation of state leaders, has become one of the key world discussion platforms. As Sergey Lavrov recently stated at the Peace Forum in Paris, the politicization of the once purely financial and economic structure is connected with the fact that many countries want to be heard in world political discussions. And the attempts of the dictate on the part of Western states in traditional international institutions are forcing the developing regions to look more and more towards those sites where equality cannot be interpreted ambiguously.

As Sergei Lavrov told reporters following the meeting, in Nagoya, participants raised issues in the field of global governance and world trade, discussed the goals of sustainable development, and also separately addressed the problems of Africa, which was allotted for the whole session.

Moscow called on the West to recall the origins of the organization

– Global governance, of course, needs to be improved, given the problems that exist in the global economy, the global trading system. And from this point of view, the format of the “group of twenty” is optimal. BRICS countries, the G7 countries, and other countries that ensure the representation of the civilizational diversity of the modern world are represented here, ”said the Russian Foreign Minister.

He added that a difficult but extremely important work is being carried out, which “helps to bring to discussion in advance, to find generally acceptable approaches to those problems that are already in the international legal sense” will be solved in traditional world structures, including the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.

According to Alexei Chepa, deputy chairman of the State Duma’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, the uniqueness of the G20’s success. Indeed, here, in contrast to the same “Big Seven,” countries with different political, economic, and cultural traditions are represented. And the format itself involves both closed meetings and open sessions, and bilateral negotiations. The deputy explained to Izvestia: the most important thing is that this platform provides an opportunity for the leading countries of the world to exchange views on the most pressing political and economic issues, and with all the desire, it cannot turn into a club for the interests of only Western states.

Lavrov discussed with Sullivan the problems of relations between the countrie

The main value of the “Big Twenty” lies precisely in the discussion and equal discussions, said associate professor of the political theory department of MGIMO, political scientist Kirill Koktysh.

– Water is always looking for its way. If the traditional channel fails, an additional one arises . Any new situation, and now there are too many new situations in the world and a high level of uncertainty, requires discussion and the development of some kind of shared vision. And the club structure is often more suitable for this than the usual hierarchical one. It is very convenient when it is possible to discuss many pressing issues without entering into a formal relationship, ”the expert told Izvestia.

However, to consider the G20 as some alternative to traditional institutions, especially the UN, would be wrong, the political scientist is sure. In his opinion, we are talking about an additional and auxiliary function of such sites.

– It is impossible to exclude from the club, it is fundamentally non-hierarchical and none of the participants has any privileges. In this regard, it is suitable for discussing positions, because discussion is possible only among equals. That is, this is not a decision-making tool – this prerogative remains with traditional structures . But as the current situation shows, discussing and deciding simultaneously at the same time has been badly done recently, ”added Kirill Koktysh.

According to the Russian side, the meeting of the G20 at the level of the leaders of the participating countries in Osaka on June 28–29 was crowned with certain successes. The Declaration adopted in the summer confirmed the G20’s commitment to multilateral approaches in international relations, promoting mutual trade, investing in infrastructure projects, combating climate change, combating corruption and other important global issues. Special attention was paid to the digital agenda during the Japanese presidency: after all, if not the Japanese, should set trends in communication with artificial intelligence.

And although the leaders of the G20 worked very hard in Osaka on world prosperity, the club’s work did not end there in 2020. And so that the foreign ministers – already in Nagoya – could sum up the results of the present and look into the future as efficiently as possible, the host country did its best to create the most comfortable conditions for the participants.

Heads of delegations began to be tuned in a constructive, and most importantly in a positive way, on Friday evening. The privilege of opening a ministerial meeting with a gala dinner fell to Kawabun, the oldest restaurant in Nagoya, which received its first visitors 400 years ago. And so that nothing could disturb the participants of the event, the local authorities blocked all approaches to the main points of the G20 gathering in advance.

Often, the G20 summits – at whatever level they are held – attract crowds of anti-globalists, as well as supporters of all the good and opponents of all the bad. The Japanese, of course, knew about this. Numerous police officers stationed at each intersection, armed with batons, courteously bowing each time, indicated to the passersby the direction of their further walk . Only a special badge could break through the wide-spread cordon, the miraculous magic of which brought the politeness of law enforcement officers to some unattainable level and forced them to part, hanging their honed nods. At one point, the guests of Nagoya caught themselves thinking that it was from such a concentration of courtesy that they themselves, albeit not so skillfully, began to bow right and left.

Only local nationalists reminded of the protest accompaniment of such meetings (for some reason, having forgotten about the Kuril issue, they demanded islands from China and South Korea) and citizens concerned about the fate of Hong Kong. Moreover, the latter, worrying about the freedom of Hong Kong students, were armed with Japanese and American flags. And even if there were activists somewhere in Nagoya, it is unlikely that any of the G20 ministers would have heard them, if only they did not want to take a walk deep into the residential quarters of the city before plenary sessions.

Field Talks

In addition to the general program, Sergey Lavrov had his own. On Friday evening, the chief of Russian diplomacy held talks with a colleague from Japan, and already on Saturday met with the foreign ministers of China and Spain – Wang Yi and Josep Borrell.

As expected, the issue of the peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo and the theme of the Kuril Islands were raised with Toshimitsu Motegi. Although the Kuril affiliation is not a question for Russia at all, the recently appointed head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry clearly could not help but raise it. According to Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Federation is interested in developing good neighborly relations with Japan in all areas without exception.

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“We sincerely want to solve all the problems that remain between us, including, of course, the question of a peace treaty,” the Russian diplomats chief assured his Japanese counterpart.

Toshimitsu Motegi, in turn, noted that he intends to visit Moscow in the near future, where he plans to discuss in more detail issues of cooperation and various problem points in bilateral relations.

And although the negotiations were closed, everything was pretty clear from the protocol part: Russia and Japan, despite minor advances, are still far from a peace treaty. However, this does not prevent countries from building up cooperation and even launching programs for the joint development of the South Kuril Islands. The main thing now, according to Sergey Lavrov, is “to establish a process of our cooperation that will allow us to bring relations to a qualitatively new level,” because “in the conditions of qualitatively advanced relations, any problems will be much easier to solve.”

The meeting with Chinese Minister Wang Yi, unlike the negotiations with the head of the Japanese department, was no longer about problems, but about cooperation . As Sergey Lavrov himself noted, contacts between Moscow and Beijing are regular, and cooperation is close. Therefore, the main goal of the conversation between the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and the PRC, according to Wang Yi, was to outline what kind of positive development awaits Russian-Chinese relations in 2021. Moreover, the Minister of China recalled, the 75th anniversary of the Victory over fascism is coming, and this event must, of course, be celebrated together.

Negotiations with Josep Borrell, who is currently acting as Foreign Minister of Spain and will soon replace Federica Mogherini as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, were important for the future . Indeed, in the near future, the Spanish politician will become one of those with whom Moscow will have more than once to discuss the state of relations between Russia and the EU after the final completion of the political rearrangements in Brussels.

Perhaps the most interesting was the unscheduled conversation with US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan , whom Mike Pompeo sent to Nagoya in his place. As the Russian delegation told reporters, “Lavrov’s schedule includes a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers Council in Japan with Sullivan.” Intrigue was added by the fact that very soon the American diplomat should go to Moscow as ambassador, and previously Russia had already agreed to his candidacy. However, whether this dialogue has become the most interesting is unlikely anyone will know for certain. Russian-American negotiations were completely closed to the press, including even photographers.

According to Sergei Lavrov, who only slightly revealed the secret of the conversation with John Sullivan, the dialogue was about “how can we solve the many problems that have accumulated in our relations . ” In addition, the parties reaffirmed the support of the G20, which “creates a good platform for reaching generally acceptable agreements.”

Meanwhile, the Japanese G20 presidency is drawing to a close. In 2021, Saudi Arabia will collect the largest economies in the world.