At G20 Summit, Europe Promotes a Bogus Alternative to China’s Belt and Road

The G20 summit in New Delhi did not go well for the Western powers, although outright clashes were avoided. Most significantly, their desire to “Ukrainize” the agenda failed. The final declaration contains much milder language on the Ukraine conflict than at the 2022 summit in Bali, Indonesia, which explicitly deplored the “aggression by the Russian Federation”, and called for its “complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine”. Reflecting the increased awareness that NATO had deliberately provoked the military operation, this year’s declaration does not blame Russia, but calls for efforts to achieve a “comprehensive, just and durable peace in Ukraine” in line with the UN Charter.

Moreover, in another setback for the former colonizers, there is no mention of the need to phase out fossil fuels or to eliminate carbon-emitting energy sources. Otherwise of note is that the African Union was admitted as a permanent member, making it the G21. The European Union had been granted membership status from the outset, in 1999, together with the four individual European member states (France, Germany, Italy and the UK, which was still in the EU at the time).

The final declaration of the 20 member states also supports the Black Sea grain initiative, and expresses appreciation for the efforts of Türkiye to revive the agreement. Bloomberg reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had urged the leaders to meet some of Russia’s demands, including facilitating insurance for Russian food and fertilizer exports by Lloyds of London, and reconnecting Moscow to the SWIFT system for international payments. An easing of some sanctions was also requested by Ankara, allowing for example the import of agricultural equipment, which is now prohibited by the West.

On the sidelines of the summit, however, American and European leaders signed a joint initiative with India, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, which is designed to compete with China’s highly successful Belt and Road Initiative, which just celebrated its tenth anniversary. Dubbed the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), the project involves two separate transport corridors, one connecting India to the Arabian Gulf, and the other going from the Arabian Gulf to Europe. (So what does the United States have to do with this, given the geography, one might ask…)

For Western leaders, the project is obviously meant to subvert the BRICS 11 as well, which Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been invited to join as of Jan. 2024. And it’s a rather laughable attempt by the EU to be seen as a credible economic rival to China. It remains to be seen whether, contrary to other such pledges, Brussels will actually disburse some funds to build something.

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