G20 leaders stand in solidarity with Paris

Day two of the G20 begins as terrorism continues to overshadow summit

Photo by: TRTWorld
Photo by: TRTWorld

World leaders stood in silent solidarity at the G20 to remember the victims of the Paris attacks and the Ankara bombings last month.

Inside a grand chamber at the Regnum Carya Hotel in the Turkish resort of Antalya, you could only hear the sound of cameras taking photos.

“Terrorism is a threat to our peace and security for all of us,” warned the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Turkey believes that developing cooperation and fighting against terrorism is an issue that we should show a much stronger determination,” he added.

There is now a new urgency to defeat DAESH, also known as ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the murders in Paris.

The two-day summit, attended by the US, Chinese and Russian leaders among others, is meant to primarily be focused on economic matters but is now overshadowed by the issue of terrorism.

The French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, has taken the place of his country’s President, Francois Hollande, as he deals with the tragedy at home.

The long handshake Mr Fabius shared with the Turkish President when he arrived, was another symbol of solidarity.

“I will appeal to every one of the G20 leaders to concentrate their actions on DAESH,” said European Council President Donald Tusk.

“They are the real enemy of the free world, not the moderate Syrian opposition.”

Russian military action in Syria, which began six weeks ago, has been widely criticised by Turkey and its western allies.

Russia has repeatedly said it’s targeting DAESH.

But many in the west fear the main aim of the Russian air strikes is to ensure that Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, remains in power.

US President Barack Obama talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and US security advisor Susan Rice prior to the opening session of the Group of 20 (G20) [Reuters]

As was the case at the last G20 in Brisbane, much may depend on the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We will redouble our efforts with other members of the coalition to bring about a peaceful transition in Syria and to eliminate DAESH as a source that can create so much pain and suffering for people,” said US President Barack Obama.

Mr Obama shared a handshake with Mr Putin and the two held talks on the sidelines of the summit, sitting in chairs, hunched forward with their translators beside them.

A White House official said the two agreed for the need of a political transition in Syria and that the United Nations could mediate negotiations between the Syrian opposition and the regime after a ceasefire.

But the US and its allies insist Mr Assad must stand down as part of a political solution to the conflict.

On that issue, Russia - and let’s not forget Iran - still differ with other countries.

Author: Duncan Crawford