Washington DC: At a time when the world is grappling with the effects of the Russia-Ukraine war, pandemic, inflation, energy and food security crises, leaders of Canada, Australia, and Sweden are optimistic about India’s G20 Presidency and the crucial role it will play under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“India’s taking on the Presidency at an extremely difficult time in terms of the coherence of the organization. It’s been declining in coherence for a while. I will just say that I think if anybody is positioned to be a platform where there can be an exchange of such disparate views, it’s probably India. And I wish my good friend, Prime Minister Modi all the best in his Chairmanship. I know he’ll do a great job,” former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper told News India Times on December 16, 2022, in response to a question about India assuming the G20 Presidency.
Harper, who hosted Modi for a historic bilateral visit in 2015 in Canada, met Modi recently in 2019 on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi. To a question about PM Modi’s leadership, Harper noted Modi has done an amazing job, especially in the transformation of the political landscape, where he has turned the Bharatiya Janata Party from a struggling opposition into the natural governing party of the country.
“At a time where there’s such deep divisions and turmoil in a lot of democracies, he [Modi] created a broad consensus around major public policy in the direction of the country. So regardless of whether one agrees or disagree with Mr. Modi I think you have to admire what he’s accomplished politically. India’s [also] on a pretty good track if you look at around the world compared to most countries,” added Harper, who was in Washington DC to participate in a panel discussion titled, “2023: A World in Flux Perspectives from the Indo-Pacific, Middle East, and Transatlantic Community,” organized by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) America.
Harper was joined by former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, Senator and former Foreign Minister and Defense Minister of Australia, Marise Payne, and President, Emirates Policy Centre, Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, who discussed the Russia-Ukraine war, pandemic, global inflation, China’s effort to create an alternative global order, Middle-East, and challenges facing the world community in 2023. President of ORF, Samir Saran moderated the event, and Chairman of ORF, Sunjoy Joshi delivered the closing remarks.
About India’s G20 Presidency, Senator Payne told News India Times, “I think it’s wonderful that India has taken on the G20 presidency… particularly at a difficult time for the world economy. There needs to be very strong leadership from the G20 to make sure that we come through these challenges in terms of inflation broadly but of course, world energy prices, and food security. I think India has a very important experience and role to play in that and I’m sure Australia and India will work very closely.”
Payne said she’s confident that the new government in Australia will continue the relationship built during her tenure. Especially, in areas of comprehensive strategic partnership such as the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between Indian and Australian foreign and defense ministers, and the Quad alliance, which has had an enormous impact in the region. She indicated that Australia will be continuing these partnerships through the India’s G20 Presidency.
About the Quad, Payne said she’s very proud of its growth since the first meeting of Foreign Ministers that took place in New York in 2019 while stressing the only foreign minister continuing from that group is India’s Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar. Others including US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Payne, and Japan’s Foreign Minister, Toshimitsu Motegi have left their positions.
Calling it “a pivotal first in-person meeting,” and a “huge step for the Quad,” Payne said she’s happy that the Quad leaders’ meetings have been in progress, both in-person and virtually, despite the pandemic.
Payne added, “To come to that point in less than two years effectively, has been an immense progress and I think a real contribution on regional security and stability. It says to the region, that the Quad is about more than security. The Quad has had a focus, for example, on COVID response, vaccine delivery, climate, cybersecurity, key issues for our region, which are about much more than just traditional security issues. And so, I’m very pleased and very proud of where we’ve come.”
Former Swedish PM Bildt told News India Times, “Well, India has launched the [G20] Presidency with a very ambitious agenda that covers a lot of the issues that are extremely topical. And I think India, following Indonesia is great… India has good preconditions… So, I think every country is looking forward to making its contribution.”
Bildt said he was in New Delhi earlier this month on a week-long visit to participate in the 21st India Trilateral Forum and the Conference on India-Sweden Economic Partnership among other events. Jointly organized by ORF, America, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Trilateral Forum, which focused on the US-India-Europe Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, was inaugurated by Jaishankar. Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, Annalena Baerbock and others participated as well.