The G20 includes the African Union in Delhi: a sign of a new world order.

This is indeed a perplexing behavior. The Scholz government has always celebrated it as a success when Russia has been condemned for the war in Ukraine – whether it be in the UN General Assembly, the EU, international cultural and sports organizations, or the G20 summit in November 2022 in Bali – but no longer in Delhi. Chancellor Olaf Scholz promptly betrays himself and labels this meeting, including the closing statement, as a success. It is being sugarcoated and romanticized, when it should provoke criticism and disapproval.

Aus der deutsche Vordelegation hatte es noch Tage vor dem Ereignis geheißen, Deutschland werde keine Erklärung unterschreiben, „die den russischen Angriffskrieg unerwähnt lässt“, zitierte die indische Zeitung Mint. Man sei nicht bereit zu relativieren. Dieser Rempler galt Indien, das den Ukraine-Krieg mitnichten gutheißt, aber als einen von vielen bewaffneten Konflikten weltweit einsortiert.

Schwindende Deutungshoheit

Staying true to the German maximum position would have meant offending the host, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Recognition and prestige for the G20 host could only be achieved with a communiqué, and not without such a document. If Germany, and likely the Western states as a whole, had rejected the assumed version, it would have signaled a disagreement that could lead to deep divisions between the Global North and South. This would have been a political damage that needed to be avoided at all costs, for the benefit of everyone involved.

Finally, India acted not in its own interest, but as the spokesperson for a group of G20 countries that do not fully share the Western interpretation of the Ukraine conflict. It seemed unwise to reveal this more than necessary. The fact that a compromise was reached, which does not explicitly mention Russia but instead emphasizes the territorial integrity of all states, demonstrates the diminishing influence of the West. If Scholz declares this as a success, it does little to enhance his credibility. Rhetoric can obscure realities, but not change them.

Fraglos hat Delhi eines bestätigt: Die geopolitische Konkurrenz um den Globalen Süden ist vollauf entbrannt. Das zeigte auch der Verzicht des chinesischen Präsidenten auf eine Teilnahme. Sicher kommen dafür Differenzen in Betracht, wie sie zwischen China und Indien seit Jahrzehnten gären. Dennoch war die Abwesenheit Xi Jinpings alles andere als eine protokollarisch verbrämte Missachtung des G20-Präsidenten Indien. Xi und Narendra Modi sahen sich jüngst auf dem BRICS-Gipfel in Johannesburg. Sie hielten Distanz und keine gemeinsame Pressekonferenz ab, schienen aber nicht derart entzweit, dass die auf den Weg gebrachte BRICS-Aufstockung von fünf auf elf Staaten darunter gelitten hätte.

Delhi has confirmed one thing: the geopolitical competition for the Global South is fully ignited. This was also shown by the Chinese President’s decision not to participate. Differences between China and India, which have been simmering for decades, may be considered as a reason for this. However, Xi Jinping’s absence was anything but a mere protocol-based disregard for the G20 President, India. Xi and Narendra Modi recently met at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg. They maintained a distance and did not hold a joint press conference, but they did not seem so divided that the BRICS expansion from five to eleven countries would have suffered as a result.

Kein exklusives Format

It cannot be ruled out that China’s president no longer sees the G20 as an adequate or at least exclusive forum that aligns with his country’s desired new world order of multilateralism. For China, other organizations hold a comparable, if not higher, importance, such as the „Group of 77.“ Currently led by Cuba, this alliance of 134 states, primarily from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, is just as relevant to China’s foreign policy agenda as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with Russia, several post-Soviet republics, India, and Pakistan. Another significant project is BRICS plus, which will come into action in January. As it turns out, the Global South is well-organized and now seems willing and urged to voice its opinions more prominently. The West must acknowledge that such a shift is not imminent but has already begun.

In Delhi, the African Union (AU) is accepted into the G20 without much debate, almost casually. It is a sign of the times, even though symbolism is the main focus. The umbrella organization of all 55 African countries does not have the same influence as a G20 veteran like the European Union. The EU has powers over its 27 member states that the AU can only dream of. Its decision-making authority ends where the sovereignty of individual states sets limits. Additionally, the AU does not define itself as a geopolitical actor. However, this does not change the international recognition that the AU receives as the 21st member of the G20.

Keep in mind that when this federation was established in 1999, it included Italy, Germany, France, and Great Britain, in addition to the EU, while Africa’s presence was limited to the Republic of South Africa.

Einigermaßen unbeirrt

Xi Jinping gab den G20 in ihrem bisherigen Zuschnitt – notgedrungen oder nicht – seinen Segen. Seit er 2012 das höchste Staatsamt übernahm, fehlte er bei keinem Gipfel. Dass er Delhi ausließ, kann als Zeichen dafür gesehen werden, dass China unter seiner Führung Prioritäten international nicht anders setzen will, sondern setzen kann. Und das einigermaßen unbeirrt.

Dies heißt freilich nicht, dass Xi auch dem G20- oder G21-Gipfel 2024 fernbleibt, wenn der in Brasilien über die Bühne geht und Gastgeber Lula da Silva ihn erwartet.