Incoming G20 leader Turkey says group must be more inclusive

Davutoglu also indicated that Turkey would expand the G20’s role beyond economic cooperation

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Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday called for a more inclusive Group of 20 forum, saying it would give low income nations a stronger voice when it takes over the presidency for 2015.

Davutoglu also indicated that Turkey would expand the G20’s role beyond economic cooperation and decision-making to issues such as the refugee crisis in eastern Europe, the Ebola outbreak in Africa and terrorism in the Middle East.

“During our presidency we want to be the voice of everybody,” Davutoglu said at a conference in Brisbane where he is due to attend the weekend G20 Leaders Summit.

Turkey’s more inclusive agenda contrasts with that of current host Australia, which has attempted to impose a tight focus on the disparate grouping with a pledge to increase collective global economic growth by an extra 2 percent over five years to 2017.

Davutoglu said Turkey would continue to press that goal, but underscored the importance of talking about geopolitical issues at the group’s gathering.

“If the G20 agenda is only limited to financial issues, the G20 cannot function, it cannot have international legitimacy,” he said.

Davutoglu also diverged from current chair Australia on the issue of climate change, saying it was imperative to agree a U.N.-mandated goal to curb carbon emissions. Australia has attempted to keep climate change issues off the G20 agenda.

Ankara takes over the presidency in December, its relations with Washington and Europe strained by its reluctance to take a frontline role against Islamic state militants in Syria and Iraq. President Tayyip Erdogan’s tightening grip on power has also raised concern in Europe and the United States.

Still, it has the opportunity to be the first country to effectively lead the grouping from an emerging market point of view.

Russia’s chairmanship last year was viewed by many analysts as a failure, while both Mexico and South Korea were too caught up in a necessary focus on world crises to set a defining agenda.

Davutoglu said trade and infrastructure would also be high on the agenda next year, linking these financial issues to a range of geopolitical issues such as the the influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey and terrorism.

“We spent $4.5 billion for those refugees in three years,” he said.