UPDATE WITH PRESIDENT ERDOGAN'S ATTENDANCE AND SPEECH
ISTANBUL/ANKARA (AA) - The Group of 20 Leaders' Summit kicked off in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia is chairing the summit which will run through Sunday and is being held virtually in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In his opening speech, Saudi King Salman bin Abdelaziz focused on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on international economies.
"This year has been an exceptional year, as the novel coronavirus pandemic constituted an unprecedented shock that affected the whole world in a short period of time," said the Saudi monarch.
He went on to say that "our peoples and economies are still suffering from this shock, but we will do our best to overcome this crisis via international cooperation."
"In the near future, we must address the weaknesses that have emerged due to this crisis, while working to protect lives and livelihoods," he added.
- Erdogan urges cooperation
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the summit online from the Vahdettin Mansion in Istanbul.
He said dealing with the pandemic is impossible without cooperation, adding that countries with weaker economies should not be left to their fate.
"The vaccines that are being developed should be used for the common good of humanity instead of further exacerbating the existing injustices," he said.
“The G20 platform should prepare and operate the mechanisms that will assure the cost-effective and fair access of the vaccine by everyone.”
He went on to say that Turkey has provided aid to 156 countries and nine international organization amid the pandemic.
“We have adopted an action plan as G20 in order to minimize the economic impact of the pandemic. We appreciate the gradual development in the debt relief which we regard as the most concrete step of the action plan,” he added.
- Political uncertainty
This year's summit is overshadowed by political uncertainty in the United States, as President Donald Trump has still refrained from acknowledging the victory of his opponent Joe Biden in the presidential elections which took place on Nov. 3.
The summit is also being held at a time when the US and many European countries are facing a second wave of coronavirus.
The G20 consists of Germany, the US, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia, France, South Africa, South Korea, India, the UK, Italy, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the European Union as well as the IMF and the World Bank.
Together, the nations of the G20 account for around 80% of global economic output, nearly 75% of all global trade, and about two-thirds of the world’s population. Experts believe that building personal relationships among leaders has substantial effects on making foreign policy. By gathering so many leaders together, G20 summits offer rare opportunities to develop such relationships and foster bilateral ties.
The G20 was formed in 1999 as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis. In 2008, the first G20 Leaders' Summit was held, and the forum played a key role in helping member countries respond to the global financial crisis.
* Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara