The meetings of financial chiefs of the Group of 20 leading economies (Feb. 24-25), were due to touch on issues including digital currencies and payments, reform of institutions like the World Bank, climate change and financial inclusion.
However, tensions over the Russia-Ukraine conflict flared.
Since the G20 proposed final statement was objected by Russia and China, the chairperson of the meetings issued a summary and an outcome document instead of a communiqué.
On Saturday (Feb. 25), South Africa’s Finance minister commented these talks on the sidelines of the summit hosted in Bengaluru, India.
"I think the big sticking point has always been in every of these meetings, wrangling over the wording how do you word the Ukraine-Russian situation," Enoch Godongwana said.
"The chair has found a comfortable position of addressing that, acknowledging that the majority of the countries where do they stand and what are the difference other countries have."
Firm non-alignment stand
Since the war in Ukraine broke a year ago, the Pretoria's stance on the conflict has been neutrality. That position drew criticism from Western partners of South Africa. Most particularly when South Africa launched military drills with Russia and China on Feb. 17.
Godongwana broke down his contry's position: "South Africa has taken a firm non-alignment stand. In fact, a pro-negotiated settlement stance."
Regarding the criticism on the naval exercices, he said: "It was something planned long time ago even before the war."
"Our relationship with Russia and friendship has been in place for a long time and that relationship still exists. Does it necessarily mean by doing so that we support the war? I would argue no. What we disagree with other nations is not that Russia was correct or not. What we disagree is the proposed response to it."
The G20 group includes the US, Brazil, Russia and countries like India and South Africa that enjoy trade ties and historic bonds with Moscow.
The United Nations General Assembly voted on Friday (Feb. 234) to "condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine" and call for its "withdrawal".
Out of the 32 countries that kept to a neutral stance and abstained, were 22 African nations.