The recently concluded G20 Summit in Turkey took place against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks in Paris that shocked the world. As a result, even economic issues appeared to take on an inherently different quality at the summit.
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, prior to a session of the G20 Summit in Turkey on Nov. 16, 2015. Photo: AP
This year’s G20 Summit was held in Antalya, Turkey against the background of tragic and dramatic events – the war in Syria, the unceasing flow of migrants into Europe, and finally, the terrorist attacks in Paris on the evening on Nov. 13. It is fully understandable that, in this context, it was simply impossible to ignore issues related to world politics.
"We are now at a point where words end in the fight against terrorism. We are now at a stage where this should be put at the forefront," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters ahead of the summit.
All the leaders of the G20 countries unanimously condemned the series of bloody terrorist attacks in Paris. In fact, the struggle against international terrorism became almost the central issue of discussion at the summit.
Testimony to this fact is that on the final day of the summit, a special statement was adopted that called on all G20 participants to work together on strengthening aviation security and combatting channels that finance terrorism. A special role in this area was entrusted to the international group on combating money laundering and terrorist financing (FATF, or Financial Action Task Force).
“The attacks in Paris remind us that it will not be enough to defeat ISIL in Syria and Iraq alone. Here in Antalya, our nations, therefore, committed to strengthening border controls, sharing more information, and stepping up our efforts to prevent the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria and Iraq,” U.S. President Barack Obama told the press at the end of the summit.
Economic issues at the forefront
The G20 Summit, held Nov. 15-16, officially ended the year of Turkey’s G20 presidency, which was dedicated to the slogan “Openness, implementation and investment.” Naturally, seeing that the G20 is a structure primarily focused on economic issues, the world’s leaders focused on “strong, sustainable and balanced growth” at this year’s summit.
As the host country, Turkey prepared a draft general communiqué, which contained theses on the need to strengthen macroeconomic cooperation, create new jobs, reform international financial regulations, introduce international taxes and strengthen the fight against corruption.
Turkey proposed more active assistance to developing countries, and a more vigorous encouragement of international investment. A few days before the G20 Summit in Antalya, the Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davitoglu noted that, “The global economic infrastructure needs investments of $70 trillion over the next 15 years. There are three main areas for investments: trade, energy, and the fight against climate change.”
In this regard, it is not surprising that during the summit the G20 in their discussions specifically debated topics related to sustainable energy development, as well as financial cooperation aimed at countering climate change.
In addition, they discussed the creation of such entities as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a trade agreement among the U.S. and twelve Pacific Rim countries, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, the goals of which are to promote multilateral economic growth.
Refugee crisis and climate change
In many ways, given the fact that the G20 Summit was held in Turkey, the summit’s participants also could not avoid the issue of the migration crisis, which today has become practically the most severe problem faced by the European Union.
This topic is also of serious importance to Turkey, which has already spent about $8.5 billion on the support and care of refugees in its territory. In general, the G20 communique expressed the need to “create conditions for the return of refugees to their homes.”
With the approaching climate summit in Paris, the discussions also turned to the theme of global climate change, most of the blame for which is placed on the most industrialized countries on the planet.
The Kremlin promotes its diplomacy at the G20
Forums such as the G20 are always interesting also due to their “semi-formal” formats; where on the “sidelines” of the conferences or summits are held brief but very important bilateral and multilateral meetings. In Antalya, President Vladimir Putin made the maximum use of this format in the interests of Russian foreign policy.
First of all, there was the personal meeting on Nov. 15, which lasted more than 20 minutes, between Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama. The conversation was mainly about the situations in Syria and Ukraine. Judging by the first comments published by the Russian media, there is hope for possible progress in the convergence of approaches by Moscow and Washington on the “Syrian dossier.”
Secondly, meetings were held between Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping and there were informal conversations among leaders of the BRICS countries. In a joint statement, the BRICS leaders called for the strengthening of the role of the G20 in responding to the global financial and economic challenges, while expressing “their readiness to support China during its future presidency of the G20.”
Finally, in third place, the important fact was that positive communications took place between the Russian president and the prime ministers of Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan, as well as a brief personal meeting between Putin and the King of Saudi Arabia.
It is well known that bilateral relations between Russia and these countries in recent years have clearly been in need of a lift. As Putin pointed out in his press conference at the end of the summit, he did see that in some way there is clear interest in renewing work in many areas, including the economy, politics and security: “We never renounced good relations with our partners in the East or the West. And the unilateral measures limiting our cooperation in various areas were initiated by our partners, not us. If our partners now feel that the time has come to somehow change our relations, we welcome this; we never renounced joint work or closed our doors.”
The Turkish Stream project back on track
In addition, it is very interesting that after Putin talked with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, hastened to tell the press that the two leaders had agreed to continue work on the development of the Turkish Stream project.
“The Turkish Stream remains an ongoing project between Russia and Turkey. An instruction was given to revive the negotiations between corporate and ministerial levels after the formation of the new government in Turkey. Before the end of this year, a high council on Russia-Turkey cooperation will take place and the Turkish Stream will be included on the interstate agenda before the end of the year, in December.” Miller said.
Putin, for his part, is convinced that the Turkish Stream has not lost any momentum. Speaking about the potential of Turkey-Russia bilateral projects, he told the press after the summit that he did not see any problems in general. “In any case, Turkey is interested, as we were told, in maintaining and increasing the sales of our goods on its market, and in this case, we are talking about gas deals. And we looked at various options for resolving the issues that are of mutual interest to us,” he said.