G-20 enters politics in Turkey Summit

G-20 enters politics in Turkey Summit

It is the first time in the G-20’s history that its leaders made a strong call on a major political crisis, the Syria civil war and its consequences as terrorism and migration. In fact, the G-20 was founded in 1999 as a platform to bring industrial and developing actors to discuss global economic issues.

The G-20 leaders meeting in Turkey’s Mediterranean city of Antalya on Nov. 15 made a call for the need to become united against terrorism, which has turned into a burning issue not only for the Middle East but for the entire world with the recent attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

The ISIL attacks have been happening outside of Syria and Iraq for a couple of months, as the U.S.-led coalition joined by Turkey in July has started to hit its positions there hard. The Ankara suicide bombings claimed 102 lives on Oct. 10, the Paris attacks on Nov. 13 claimed 129 lives only two days before the G-20 Summit and in between those two events was the crash of the Russian passenger plane on Nov. 4 in the Sinai Desert of Egypt that killed 224 people, which ISIL has claimed it bombed down.

The fact that the major actors in the Syria crisis have reached a consensus on the future of the country seemed to endorse the position of the leaders at the G-20 Antalya Summit. The joint press statement of Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan with U.S. President Barack Obama linked the Paris and Ankara attacks to the need of a new outlook on Syrian civil war and the immigrants. 

Obama’s praising of Turkey as an “important ally” against ISIL is like shelving heavy criticism made against the Turkish government over the past few years, with accusations of turning a blind eye to the rise of militant Islamist movements in Syria for the sake of toppling down Bashar al-Assad there; it also seems that nobody is innocent in spotting ISIL threats on time and taking timely proper measures. After Vienna and Antalya, it seems not only the U.S. and Russia but Turkey is trying to open a new page and not repeat former mistakes.

That applies for other actors, too. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in Antalya on Nov. 15 “Those who organized, who perpetrated the attacks are the very same people who the refugees are fleeing and not the opposite,” when trying to explain that the EU would not shut its doors to Syrian migrants after the Paris attacks. While Juncker was saying that, Doland Tusk, the President of the European Council, was next to him; Tusk’s homeland of Poland was hasty to announce that it would not receive any migrants on the same day of the Paris attack.

It was inevitable for G-20 leaders to discuss Syria with terrorism and migrant dimensions while it was on the global agenda. Tomorrow, the G-20 is likely to return to its designed agenda of “inclusive economy,” but the first day’s performance showed that the G-20 might take a more active role in global politics as well as economy in the future.