Widodo: Now is not time for geopolitical tension

Widodo: Now is not time for geopolitical tension

Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s president, speaks in a prerecorded video during the Mandiri Investment Forum in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb 9, 2022. The annual investment forum co-hosted by Bank Mandiri and Mandiri Sekuritas will continue through Feb 11. (Photo: Bloomberg)

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday 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.

The president made the remarks at the opening of a meeting of finance leaders from the Group of Twenty (G20) major economies hosted by Indonesia.

The remarks from the leader of Southeast Asia’s largest economy echoes concerns that an invasion of Ukraine would have far-reaching consequences. According to Kyiv’s Western allies, Russia has massed as many as 150,000 troops on its neighbor’s borders in a possible precursor to an attack and are voicing reservations about announcements from the Kremlin that it is withdrawing some forces.

“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,” Widodo 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.”

“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.”

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the meeting will focus on discussing the exit strategy for monetary policy, high global inflation, Covid-19 vaccine distribution and financing the climate agenda, among other things.

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 G20 conference of ministers.

“We stand for a world and a vision grounded in problem solving and innovation, not coercion and aggression,” United States 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.

A general view of the opening ceremony of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb 17, 2022. (Photo: Reuters)

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.

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.

The G20 consists of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the US and the European Union. They are countries with the biggest industrialised and emerging economies.