German Envoy: Negotiations Over G20 Declaration Showed That It Was ‘18 Versus 2’

Philipp Ackermann also said that if the summit had ended without a consensus declaration, it “would have been a kind of death to the G20”.

New Delhi: The German ambassador to India, Philipp Ackermann, stressed that negotiations over the language related to the Ukraine war in the G20 declaration showed that the emerging countries were on the West’s side against the duo of Russia and China, which had to be consolidated with the final document, ensuring that group did not fail during India’s presidency.

On Saturday afternoon, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that a consensus had been reached on the final declaration of the group of 20 major economies. It was a surprise move a day before the end of the summit, since the inclusion of the language from the ‘Bali paragraph’ on Ukraine had been unacceptable to Russia and China.

Earlier on Friday night, India, along with Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia – all developing countries that are holding G20 presidencies in consecutive years – pitched a new draft text on Ukraine, which it presented as the last ultimatum with the only alternate being to talk to Modi. That strategy worked and the 18th G20 summit avoided the prospect of not having a joint statement for the first time.

While the Western leadership declared “success”, there was considerable criticism that the G20 declaration had seen a climbdown for the US and its allies.

The language of the Bali declaration that condemned Russia for the war against Ukraine was gone. Instead, all 20 members endorsed the respect for states’ “territorial integrity and sovereignty”.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry claimed that the declaration was “nothing to be proud of”, while Russia claimed it as a “victory”.

Also Read: Why China and Russia Are the Biggest Winners of India’s G20 Presidency

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Ackermann said that Germany was of the view that G20 was one of the last forums where everybody was around the table. He stated that if the summit had ended “without a consensus declaration, [that] would have been a kind of death to the G20”.

He said that officials directly involved in the negotiations had conveyed that the “dynamic very early was 18 versus two”, with the emerging markets aligned on issues against Russia and China.

Ackermann said the German chancellor Olaf Scholz left “very satisfied” at the end of the summit, as it fulfilled his two aims – to make a success of the Indian presidency and to ensure that Ukraine war should find an appropriate place in the Delhi declaration in line with the one achieved last year.

The German envoy claimed that the outcome “exceeded” expectations. “The declaration went further” than Bali, as it “reflected” the developments over the last one year, he added.

Ackermann noted that from their perspective, the declaration had strong language against the use of force for territorial acquisition and that the use of nuclear threats was unacceptable.

On Sunday, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had highlighted that there was no mention of Russia, except in the context of the Black Sea grain deal.

Also Read: G20: Modi Plays an Old Game, Walking in the Footsteps of Nehru

“I saw some things that Lavrov said and I think they are all not very convincing,” Ackerman noted. 

“I agree that Russia has not been mentioned – but it has Russia written all over it,” he added.

He also said that a “maximal” stance on language “would not have led to success”, describing the declaration as a “fabulous text” for such a “heterogenous group”.

Russia had claimed that the global south had stopped the West from “Ukrainising” the G20 agenda. On the other side of the geo-political divide, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the G20 was “not the forum for political discussions” to play down the watering-down of the text on the Ukraine conflict.