China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin skipping this week’s G20 summit in New Delhi is not unusual and has nothing to do with India, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar told ANI. He added that sherpas of the G20 countries are negotiating to build a consensus and arrive at a declaration at the September 9-10 summit in New Delhi.
The leaders of China and Russia have regretted their attendance at the summit in Delhi, but Mr. Jaishankar denied that their absence would cast a shadow on the summit.
“At different points of time in G20, there have been some presidents or prime ministers have chosen not to come. But that country’s position is reflected by whoever is the representative on that occasion.... The sherpas are in touch with each other, trying to hammer out the final document. Everyone is coming with a great deal of seriousness,” he said.
Mr. Jaishankar said that the world is changing and the G20 is the best statement of it. “Over the last many years, especially maybe over the last decade, perhaps a little bit more… the relative economic weight of countries have changed, the relative political confidence of countries have changed. The relationships especially of the major powers and the middle powers have changed”.
“So if you looked at it earlier on it was like very tight groupings and you let us say, particularly in the Western world, a very strong alliance structure,” he said.
The Foreign Minister also pointed out that today there are many more countries who are independent at a global level, a regional level, or the neighbourhood level.
“I think the world is changing and the G20 itself is actually the best statement of it… there was a time after all, we left everything to the G7 today the fact that you have G20. I mean, G20 is today seen as the premier global forum. After all, just think of the last year. Compare the G20 meeting to anything else that has happened, a NATO meeting I don't know SCO meeting BRICS meeting Quad meeting a UN meeting. Nothing has evoked the kind of attention and focus that a G20 meeting has because the world recognises today that this gathering has very exceptional importance,” Mr. Jaishankar said.
On being asked if the Russia-China alliance is creating a bigger impact on other countries, he added that the world of today is a much more multipolar and nuanced place.
"I would say do not see the world very starkly in terms of black and white and this camp and that camp. I am not saying that countries do not have their partialities and their relationships they do. But I think the world is a much more nuanced place. It is much more multipolar, there many more variables," the foreign affairs minister said.
When asked about the controversy over a G20 dinner invite referring to President Droupadi Murmu as “President of Bharat”, Mr. Jaishankar brushed it aside, stating that it is Constitutional to refer to India as Bharat.
“India, that is Bharat, it is there in the Constitution. I would invite everybody to read it... When you say Bharat, in a sense, a meaning and an understanding and a connotation that comes with it and I think that is reflected in our Constitution as well,” he said.
Speaking on India taking up the mantle of being the “voice of the Global South” to G20, the Minister said that no other presidency had aimed at getting developing countries together.
“No other G-20 presidency has tried to get together developing countries who are not on the table and say--please come, sit with us, tell us what are your concerns. And we will distil those concerns and place them before the G-20. That is a unique exercise,” the foreign affairs minister said.
Jaishankar said that India has a special responsibility in this changing world scenario.
“I see it more for India as a responsibility, that we have the responsibility today in a very difficult world. How do you bring people together? How do you make everybody understand that we all have a bigger responsibility and therefore please, can we kind of get our act together here and do what is right by the world,” he said.
(With inputs from ANI)