June 10, 2005
BLAIR'S G-8 PUSH TO AID A 'PROBLEMATIC BLACK CONTINENT' MET 'COOLLY'
** UK PM Blair, upcoming G-8 head, pushes an "ambitious agenda" of African aid.
** Blair's interest in Africa and Kyoto are not Bush's "cup of tea."
** Question: Is there a "one way friendship" with this "most important ally?"
** "Rampant corruption" and obstacles to trade make Africa a "problematic case."
'Blair's Africa mission' faces 'a difficult time ahead'-- Papers noted PM Blair chose the "plight of Africa's desperate people" and the Kyoto Protocol as likely key agenda items for July's G-8 Gleneagles, Scotland summit. UK writers sympathized with Blair's "good intentions," but focused on the "depressing" arithmetic of African aid. They joined other outlets ruminating over "failures" in the "history of the battle against African and world poverty." Russia's Izvestiya noted "Blair ran into resistance" from Bush over both issues, as several outlets judged that Blair desired to use Africa to "make his mark on history" and "distract from Iraq." Surveying it all, a Euro observer commented, "those who want to help Africa must think about new solutions."
'Aid to Africa' limns 'hard-edged' U.S. policies-- Right-leaning and conservative outlets displayed understanding of Bush's reluctance to "double" aid to Africa in order to meet a goal of achieving annual aid amounting to "0.7 percent of every wealthy country's GDP before 2012." The UK's right-of-center Sun opined, "Bush is right...throwing good money after bad will help no one." The center-left Irish Times stated, the U.S.--the "world's leading donor"--gives a "mere 0.16 per cent of GNP every year" in aid, but added the "U.S. alone is not responsible for the broken promises to Africa."
'Blair could not seriously expect to change the stubborn [Bush's] mind'-- Many Italian analysts concluded that on Africa "Bush disappointed Blair." The UK's center-left Independent determined Blair's "rescue plan for Africa" represented a "real test for the so-called special relationship between Britain and America." Yet, "Washington, Paris and the Hague have complicated it all" for Blair, declared Italy's centrist Corriere della Sera. "From a U.S. viewpoint, Africa...seems to play a subordinate role," added Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine determined "Blair is probably investing much more in the relationship with the U.S. president than vice versa."
'Africa? Many people prefer to look in another direction'-- "Africa remains outside a true political relationship with the rest of the world," declared an Italian analyst. In concert, global observers expressed that Africa's "corrupt regimes" with external "laundered bank accounts" must focus on "improving governance" to build donor confidence while the "EU and U.S. must stop dumping cheap food there, destroying local producers." South Africa's balanced Business Day called for "trade reform to allow African products into developed countries," agreeing with the Czech Republic's center-right Lidove noviny's view the UK is right that Western markets need to "open up to Africa, a continent of farmers." Tanzania's independent Mwananchi wrote, poverty will remain "if there are no institutional reforms and if our attitudes do not change."
Prepared by Media Reaction Division (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 36 reports from 13 countries from June 4-10, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed by the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Into Africa: Debt Relief Is Only The First Stage Of Any Transformation"
The conservative Times editorialized (6/9): "What the U.S. has rightly been determined to ensure is that the withdrawal of debt makes a positive difference to the poor rather than providing a fresh comfort zone for corrupt governments to squander money. The history of Africa and aid has been depressing. No part of the planet has received more and done less with it.”
"Africa Is Too Important To Be A Blair Pet Project"
Comment editor Adrian Hamilton stated in the left-of-center Independent (6/9): "Blair's Africa mission, like Live8, is 'owned'. Gleneagles will be the climax and, one fears, the high point, after which it will be quietly allowed to drain away in the parched plains of the sub-Sahara."
"Now We Know How The Peace Dividend Was Frittered Away"
An editorial in the left-of-center Independent expressed the view (6/9): "Consider the arithmetic. The 2004 increase in U.S. arms spending alone is many times more than the $674m President Bush promised to add to U.S. foreign aid spending when he spoke alongside Tony Blair on Tuesday. The annual cost of the Africa package Mr. Blair and Gordon Brown want to place before next month's G8 summit is many times less than the amount Britain and France together spend on weapons. Just a small amount less spent in one category would have translated into a proportionally much larger amount spent in the other. What a desperate shame, and what a failure."
"Rescue Plan For Africa?"
An editorial in the conservative tabloid Daily Mail stated (6/9): "Who can argue with the Bush view that while handing over billions to the UN and other agencies to spend in Africa may salve western consciences, it has delivered little of lasting value over the past three decades? The problems of the continent will only be resolved through free trade--and that means the EU and U.S. must stop dumping cheap food there, destroying local producers."
An editorial in the right-of-center tabloid The Sun remarked (6/9): "Bush is right to resist the temptation to wipe out all of Africa's debt, since to do so will inevitably reward those who are the most corrupt and penalise those countries which have been honest and paid back what they owe.... Yes, we must do all we can to help. But throwing good money after bad will help no one."
"Bob Geldof's Brazen Appeal To Popular Outrage Won't Make Poverty History"
Magnus Linklater commented in the conservative Times (6/8): "The truth...is deeply troubling for anyone who bothers to think beyond the safe confines of liberal conscience. It is that President Bush's hard-edged African policies come closer to finding a solution than those of Tony Blair or Gordon Brown.... Simply pouring more money into the purses of corrupt regimes will do nothing except to inflate their laundered bank accounts in London and Zurich and leave their people starving.... There is a message for Western nations which the G8 leaders should debate and agree: they must stop dumping their surpluses on Africa and grotesquely subsidising their own industries--the U.S. cotton industry is a case in point."
"Push Bush Into History"
An editorial in the left-of-center tabloid Daily Mirror read (6/8): "We are finally doing something to ease the plight of Africa's desperate people. But we cannot achieve the real breakthrough without the U.S. Poverty will not be made history until George W. Bush is."
"A Test For Both Mr. Blair And The Special Relationship"
The left-of-center Independent noted (6/7): "The Prime Minister should have amassed vast political credit with the White House with his misguided support for the conflict in Iraq. It is not unreasonable to ask for payback.... Perhaps in anticipation of a rebuff, the Downing Street publicity machine has tried to lower expectations of success in Washington today. But this is a real test for the so-called special relationship between Britain and America, and for Mr. Blair's consistent support for the misadventures of the Bush administration. But it is not just about domestic politics; the world awaits the outcome. And failure to extract some genuine U.S. concessions will cast a long shadow over the gathering in Gleneagles."
"Other Issues On The Agenda"
The conservative Daily Telegraph judged (6/7): "We should not expect any major announcements when President and Prime Minister face the media late tonight. But nor should the absence of compromise on Africa be taken to indicate a new froideur between Britain and the United States. If the leaders merely cement the special relationship, that is a good day's work."
"Getting Bush On Board"
The left-of-center Guardian held (6/7): "Time is certainly getting short to bring the U.S. onside. But the cause is not yet hopeless, or presumably Mr. Blair would hardly bother making a flight across the Atlantic just to risk humiliation.... The priority of winning U.S. support is very high, for practical and political reasons, but the other major donor nations of France, Japan and Germany must not be left in the cold. Already there are suggestions that those three governments are discussing their own debt relief proposal: a highly circumscribed set of criteria that would give only temporary, limited relief to a handful of African countries that were having difficulties servicing their debts. This would be a distinct step backwards, and should be rejected as a feeble attempt at a solution. Nevertheless, it does underline the significance of not overlooking the other six members of the G8."
FRANCE: "In Washington, Tony Blair Is Preparing His G8"
Isabelle Dath said on private RTL radio (6/8): “Tony Blair has a difficult time ahead with his European and American partners.... He will be taking on the presidency of the EU, which will not be a sinecure, and he is not making his life any easier by confronting George Bush on two issues that are not really the latter’s cup of tea: aid to Africa and climate change. Yesterday, beyond the smiles and the consolation prize of 674 million dollars in supplementary aid to Africa, what was especially obvious was the rift that separates the two men. Not on the content but on the form.... There is one month left [until the G8], but the going will be rough. George Bush is not indulging a whim, he is implementing the traditional American policy with regard to cooperation and aid for the Third World. The good news is that Bush said to Blair last night that global warming is a real problem! Not so long ago, he still hesitated to admit that global warming was a reality. However, George Bush’s take continues to be ‘let me pollute in peace.’ And since he did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol it will be difficult to get him to discuss post-Kyoto, that is to say after 2010.”
"The U.S. Makes A Small Gesture Towards Africa"
Centrist business-oriented La Tribune stated (6/8): “George Bush wants nothing to do with the British Prime Minister’s ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa. He does not want to hear about it in Washington or during the G-8 Summit in Scotland.... Apparently, the philosophy is not the same for all industrialized countries. Some do not hesitate to grant aid when faced with critical situations and others will only give on certain conditions.”
"George Bush Halfheartedly Supports Tony Blair"
Nicolas Madelaine wrote in economic Les Echos (6/8): “The British Prime Minister has abandoned the idea of trying to change George Bush’s mind on the IFF [International Finance Facility] but he continues to believe that he will be able to sway the American president on the issue of climate change. It appears that his trip to Washington will not produce the results he hoped for in order to motivate the other G-7 countries to do more for Africa during the upcoming summit in Scotland.”
"Tony Blair Making A Plea For Africa In Washington"
Pierre Cochez asserted in Catholic La Croix (6/8): "Since the beginning of his second term in office, George Bush has not yet made clear what he intends to do to increase aid for development. He will no doubt take advantage of the visit of one of his closest allies on the international scene in order to announce that the U.S. will grant an extra 548 million euros in aid to Africa on top of the 1.2 billion the U.S. has already pledged to the UN for Africa.... If this aid package is evaluated with regard to the economic levels of the richest countries, American contributions greatly surpass other industrialized nations in terms of absolute value.”
GERMANY: "B & B"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/9): "We can judge Tony Blair's visit to George W. Bush according to the results or to what extent these results tally the prime minister's priorities.... Blair certainly scored points because he achieved Bush's approval for the cancellation of debt for the poorest African nations. And it is not immoral that the decree is linked to conditions. With respect to development assistance policy, it is right. The turn to the rule of law and good governance is a precondition for a halfway fruitful development. But when it comes to the Kyoto Protocol, there was no such luck. But Blair could not seriously expect to change the stubborn president's mind in such a matter.... To sum it up, we can say that Blair is probably investing much more in the relationship with the U.S. president than vice versa."
"Alms For Africa--Bush's Promise Is A Trick"
Gerd Zitzelsberger stated in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (6/9): "Tony Blair had good reason to put Africa in the center of the British G-8 presidency, in addition to creeping climate change.... But thus far it does not look like Blair will enter the history books as savior of Africa, since those who want to achieve significant things in development policy need the support of the United States and its financial power. The foreign policy priorities of the U.S government are in the Middle East and in Africa. From a U.S. viewpoint, Africa--and this seems to be the result of the Bush-Blair meeting--seems to play a subordinate role. But after the stick in Iraq, Bush and Blair could have presented the carrot now. They could have demonstrated that they are willing to support the transition from dictatorial to democratic structures in development countries with funds. But after all the things we heard from the premier-president meeting, the carrots will be small. George W. Bush allowed the prospect of additional support for Africa, but this is obviously a PR trick: the promised funds were provided for development policy anyway and will now be quickly added to the budget for Africa. This image cultivation allows the conclusion that the cancellation of debt is not up to much.... Of course, Washington also has financial problems…but the scope of action for the great success in development assistance policy is small. Those who want to help Africa must think about new solutions. It is no longer enough to organize a collection for the Black Continent like during all previous G-8 summits over the past years."
Cornelia Wolber noted in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (6/9): "The most recent U.S. gesture created positive headlines for the Bush administration, and it needed it badly. But it would be wrong to consider this a change of trend in U.S development assistance policy. Despite the additional millions, the share of U.S. development assistance measured against the GNP is only 0.16 percent. With a distance, the United States brings up the rear.... When it comes to the financing of the planned cancellation of debt, the United States continues its course. While the British want to sell part of their gold reserves, the United States advocates a reduction of the development programs financed by the World Bank.... But this does not mean that everything should remain the same at the World Bank. Up until today, the institution does not have an overall concept and appropriate instruments to control its programs. The shareholders should work on this, for it is their money that disappears in dark channels due to a lack of controls."
"A Problematic Black Continent"
Right-of-center Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung argued (6/9): "There is no doubt that the Black Continent is a problematic case. But are the means, which Bush and Blair have now suggested the right means to help? The African nations in particular, who are a bit better off, do not want a cancellation of their debt, since they considered their creditworthiness to be in jeopardy on the private loan markets. It would be better to reduce trade barriers to make it easier for the African countries to achieve an economy boom under their own steam. In this respect, the United States and the EU are equally called upon to do something."
ITALY: "Africa Is Our Alibi"
Lucia Annunziata stated on the front page of centrist, influential La Stampa (6/9): “Recently, it has become virtually obligatory to say in political circles that Africa’s time has come.... But Africa remains outside a true political relationship with the rest of the world. A country is helped when it is made part of functional two-way relations...when there are two political entities and they are both at the same level (even though conflicting). That’s what is called strategic involvement. We continue not to be explicit about our true interests in Africa, which are oil, terrorism and emigration. We continue to present ourselves as those who do, while Africa receives. Despite good intentions, the result is that these initiatives will continue to be only a façade. It’s fairly obvious that this activism regarding Africa is an attempt to establish a new international agenda that will distract from Iraq, and perhaps even from Europe.”
"Bush ‘Opens’ To Africa On Debt"
Ugo Tramballi in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (6/9): “In reality, it is not simple to understand what the British Prime Minister took home with from Washington the other night. The moderate optimism of the interested parties--leaders of certain African countries, FAO Secretary General Jacques Diouf and British Labor Party--stems more from pessimistic expectations than from the results. It was the bad press that George Bush enjoys outside of the United States: everyone was hoping that he would give nothing to Blair, and only affirm the unilateralism of his Millennium Challenge.... In truth, Bush was not so miserly to the Briton who more than any other ally spent more troops, money and credibility in support of the Iraq invasion. The President spoke about canceling the debt. Theoretically, it isn’t so little: 230 billion dollars.... However, Bush’s commitments are rather opaque because they neither offer details nor deadlines.
"Africa And Environment, Bush Disappoints Blair”
Anna Guaita maintained in Rome-based center-left Il Messaggero (6/8): “Tony Blair arrived in Washington to discuss with George Bush a couple of ambitious world projects, but he returns to London with small tokens.... He obtained $674 million dollars, which are sufficient to feed the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea, but not to significantly change the future of the African people.... Experts think that the friendship between the two leaders is practically only a façade, because Bush was not able or did not want to lend a substantial hand to his ally. British political commentators maintain that it is only a one-way friendship--London towards Washington.”
"If Tony Fails, Another Generation Will Be Lost"
Danilo Taino commented in leading centrist Corriere della Sera (Internet version, 6/8): "Tony Blair predicted it would be a far smoother G-8 when, at the end of last year, he launched the drive to turn the meeting at Gleneagles, in Scotland, into a turning point that would make its mark on the history of the battle against African and world poverty. Instead, Washington, Paris, and The Hague have complicated it all, turning the agenda of priorities upside down and threatening to put paid to the wager. The British prime minister thus runs the risk of featuring as the sorcerer's apprentice who has raised unprecedented hopes only to let them be dashed.... It is widely felt among the organizations fighting poverty that if the drive fails this time, all hope will be put off until the next generation.... In his meeting with U.S. President Bush, the ambition that Blair entertained at the outset has already been considerably scaled down.... The pledge to double aid by the end of 2010 has been endorsed by the EU countries, but will not be adopted by the United States. The goal of achieving annual aid to the tune of 0.7 percent of every wealthy country's GDP before 2012 is out has been rejected by the White House.... A number of countries--with the United States and Japan to the fore--prefer to offer aid on the efficiency of whose use they can keep tabs rather than wiping the slate clean. Not that the United States is uncommitted: It is the world's leading donor, Blair pointed out yesterday. The fact of the matter is that it has no faith in the international organizations that distribute [aid] and prefers to decide for itself whom to help and how. This same unilateral approach also applies to the climate change issue, the second topic at the center of the G-8: Bush announced a series of steps that Blair has described as 'radical' in April, but it is perfectly clear that the U.S. will not be signing the Treaty of Kyoto. The British prime minister is thus approaching Gleneagles in an attempt not to draw up an agenda that will cast his ally, Bush, and the U.S. in the role of stingy superpower without a care for the rest of the world, albeit at the cost of pruning his initial ambitions hard back."
"Aid to Africa And Poverty--Bush Disappoints His Friend Blair"
Ennio Caretto from Washington in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (6/8): “U.S. President George W. Bush denied British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his most important ally, the requests he made ahead of July’s G-8 summit in Scotland... The meeting, in which the two also discussed Iran and the Middle East...may have slightly damaged the ‘special relationship’ between Bush and Blair.... Bush tried to sugarcoat the bitter pill for Blair by announcing that the neo-con Paul Wolfowitz, World Bank President, and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will both be traveling to Africa in the coming weeks. But he jeopardized the success of the G-8 by insisting on his own plan--the ‘Millennium Challenge Account.’”
"Africa and Environment, Bush Disappoints Blair"
Anna Guaita from New York in Rome center-left daily Il Messaggero (6/8): “Tony Blair arrived in Washington to discuss with George Bush a couple of ambitious world projects, but he returns to London with small tokens.... He obtained 674 million dollars, which is sufficient to feed the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea, but not to significantly change the future of the African people.... Experts think that the friendship between the two leaders is virtually a façade, because Bush was not able or did not want to lend a substantial hand to his ally. British political commentators maintain that it is only a one-way friendship - London towards Washington.”
"Aid to Africa: Bush Disappoints Blair Ahead of G-8"
Giampaolo Pioli from New York in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Il Giorno (6/8): “Bush offers 674 million dollars in aid to Africa. It’s not what Blair wanted, … but President Bush wanted to hail with a ‘gesture of generosity’ his partner in the war in Iraq who was ‘punished’ at home for his military alliance with the U.S. America is not convinced of Great Britain’s ambitious agenda for eradicating hunger in Africa, but it intends to keep dialogue open also in view of the G-8 Summit...in Scotland. Bush’s wasn’t a real embrace, rather a one-time offer. With little diplomacy and much candor, the White House flatly rejected a few days ago the ambitious financial plan presented by British Minister Gordon Brown,...which some experts are calling the new ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa.... Blair, who arrived in Washington on Monday evening for a flash visit, is trying to grin and bear it.”
"Blair To The White House To Salvage His G-8"
Paolo Mastrolilli concluded in centrist, influential La Stampa (6/7): "Tony Blair is going to the White House today to try to salvage his G8 by asking George Bush to reward him for the loyalty with which he has backed him up in Iraq and throughout the war on terrorism.... Blair needs his G8 to be a success if he is to impart a fresh boost to his popularity on the Left and to build his own political legacy.... Africa, and the struggle against global warming...are the issues that are going to dominate his top-level meeting with Bush today, along with Iraq, with the Middle East, and with Afghanistan.... To date Bush has been putting his foot on the brake. He is in favor of a partial cut in the debt, using the World Bank, but not to the sale of the IMF's gold reserves.... He does not want Brown's IFF, he does not subscribe to a commitment to invest 0.7 percent of GDP in aid, and he wants also the contributions from private U.S. players to figure in the overall national count.... To persuade him to make concessions, Blair is going to be basing his arguments on a political approach which links up also with Iraq, with the Middle East, with Iran, and with the struggle against terrorism.... Bush can take advantage of the continental conscience crisis triggered by the rejection of the constitutional treaty, in order to bring 'old Europe' back closer to the U.S.... So according to the British prime minister, the Gleneagles G-8 can provide a historic opportunity for changing the course of Europe and of its relations with the U.S.; but failure would nullify the results achieved and the steps taken to date."
RUSSIA: "Bush, Blair Agree On African Debt Alone"
Georgiy Stepanov said in reformist Izvestiya (6/9): “It looks like Bush and Blair have come to terms on the issue of debts of the entire African package of humanitarian proposals the British Prime Minister brought along. Blair ran into resistance on most of them. It’s been awhile since the allies differed so much and Blair looked so intractable and independent of the United States.”
AUSTRIA: "Right Direction"
Eva Male commentated in centrist Die Presse (6/9): "British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George Bush are now emphasizing their commitment to Africa, and this is of course a strategically clever move. Their initiative to pay more attention to the 'forgotten continent' has the agreeable side effect of enabling them to divert attention from the Iraq war that has cost them considerable support. However, the most important thing must not be forgotten: 'To reverse the development in Africa and change the lives of millions of people,' as the British have described their intention, is a pressing issue. Africa? Many people prefer to look in another direction. Considering this, it is all the more praiseworthy that Blair has now put forward a 'Marshall Plan' for Africa and wants to make debt relief and massive aid for Africa central issues at the G-8 Summit. And quite sensibly, this is not to be a one-way street either: African governments will have to promise they will take measures against corruption and uphold the constitutional state."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Africa Needs Much Help, But The Bird’s Eye Perspective Is Not Sufficient"
Radek Nedved contended in center-right Lidove noviny (6/8): "For nearly half a century the West has been hopelessly looking for a way to help Africa. Millions of 'development dollars' have traveled to Africa with good intentions, but ended up largely in the pockets of local leaders, their relatives or co-tribesmen. Does it make sense now to offer Africa a 'Marshall Plan' which is what Britain is proposing? Contrary to all the reasons for skepticism, it is necessary to agree cautiously with the proposal introduced by the British Finance Minister Brown. And to agree for two main reasons: First, Brown wants for the West to forgive Africa its debts. By this he does not mean to forget them, but rather to force the Africans to invest the owed money into education. Without education they will not go anywhere. Second: Brown is right in that it is inevitable for the Western markets to open up to Africa, a continent of farmers. And thanks to the current protectionist policies they have almost no chance to export to the West. Brown’s plan which views the development of Africa from a bird’s eye perspective is not sufficient. It is, at the same time, necessary to support thousands of small concrete projects of development organizations that are filling up Africa with wells, schools and hospitals. Furthermore to pressure African governments to teach the inhabitants of their countries to build them up themselves. It does not sound very grand, but there is no magic recipe."
IRELAND: "Hand Of History At Arm's Length As Tony Dreams On"
Columnist Lindy McDowell editorialized in the center-right Belfast Telegraph (6/9): "Tony Blair has been off again to the U.S. this week--hoping for another grope from the Hand of History. His problem is that, like an ageing singleton hoping to score with somebody, anybody, anywhere, he's now giving off such a whiff of desperation that the harder he tries, the less response he gets. He wants to leave his mark on history. His problem is that history seems more intent on leaving its mark on him. But having flogged the Good Friday Agreement as the only show in town, he's now watching curtain-down on that particular production. But Iraq didn't give him the fairy-tale ending either. Again, naively trusting that things would just, well, work out like they do in the movies, seems to have been the extent of his strategy. And all that pious talk about how he did it because 'it was the right thing to do' now rings increasingly false. For Tony, it transpires, cares only in a selective sense about "the right thing to do". The fate of the young men who died when he sent them to Iraq, young men much the same age as his own sons, apparently troubles him so little that he has yet to attend one of their funerals. Most people would regard that not just as a 'right thing to do.' But the least he could do. And now, so has Tony. Off to the U.S. of A to secure more aid for Africa and perhaps, in the process, carve out a niche for himself in the Bono/Geldof mould as St. Tony, patron saint of wristbands. So can he finally salvage something in Africa--with the Handout of History?"
"U.S. Aid Perceptions And Africa"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (6/9): “A recent poll has shown that most Americans believe that the U.S. spends a quarter of its budget on aid; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 per cent.... In the absence of significant domestic political pressure, it was not altogether surprising that President Bush felt unable to come up with more than the vaguest of promises on debt relief for developing nations… Mr. Bush's announcement that the U.S. will give €550 million in humanitarian aid to countries threatened by famine was a cynical sleight of hand--the cash had already been appropriated by Congress as aid funding and was simply awaiting designation to particular project. Crucially, Mr. Bush refused to back Mr. Blair's more ambitious plan to see the forthcoming Gleneagles G8 summit announce a doubling of aid from rich nations to $25 billion each year and starting in 2015, $50 billion annually. The summit is also hoped to announce a major programme of debt cancellation. Currently the U.S. gives a mere 0.16 per cent of GNP every year to help the developing world despite its ostensible commitment to the UN target of reaching 0.7 per cent of GNP by 2015….The U.S. alone is not responsible for the broken promises to Africa. And the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) and his Government must honor their commitments to reaching 0.7 per cent of GNP. The challenge of eradicating poverty cannot be met without the U.S., the richest country in the world and one with an aspiration to global moral leadership, stepping up to the plate.”
ROMANIA: "Blair's Main Ally"
Madalina Mitan observed in independent Curentul (6/8): "Blair needs advice from his main ally [Bush], regarding the way in which he can assume the role of European leader, together with the takeover of the EU presidency on July 1. If, not too long ago, Blair asked Bush for the job of ‘mediator’ in the Middle East, this time he has changed his horizons and needs all the help he can get in his efforts to maintain European unity.”
UAE: "Place In History"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf Today declared (6/8): "British Prime Minister Tony Blair's campaign for aid to Africa is facing a lukewarm response from U.S. President George W. Bush to the effect that the upcoming G-8 summit in July may become a venue for clash of policies between the two allies. Not that the alliance is facing a crisis, but a clash of priorities could weaken some of the elements that have been holding Britain and the US together.... Blair knew he was not going to win the kind of support from Bush that he could have normally expected from a 'shoulder-to-shoulder' ally. That was why he admitted defeat even before leaving London for the flash summit in Washington on Tuesday. Bush's $670-million offer for anti-poverty programmes in Africa, criticised by aid groups in Britain as 'a drop in the ocean,' is obviously a formality, a mandatory act reserved for his closest ally. He simply cannot give Africa more priority than his own more serious needs.... Africa is now a pet theme for Blair.... [who[ envisages one of the biggest and most comprehensive drives to fight poverty and diseases in the continent.... Africa's plight is a harsh reality accepted by the whole world. International aid in any form will certainly boost Africa's own efforts to solve its die-hard problems.... Africa, the victim of European plunder in the past, remains an easy playground for Western economic and security interests. That raises the biggest question mark over the new-found excitement to help the continent. Many see the Africa Commission as Blair's attempt to wash away the blood of a war he thrust upon Britain.... His lies have been laid bare. This is Blair's last opportunity to repair the damage and he would like Africa to be his place in history.... The basic problem between the two is that while Blair is in a hurry to book a place in history, Bush does not care."
INDONESIA: “Plans To Erase Debts Of Poor Countries Remain A Discourse”
Leading independent daily Kompas expressed the view (6/10): “Talks about erasure of debts are again on the rise after U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to write off the entire debts of poor countries in Africa. Their agreement did not cause automatic celebration, however, because many parties have responded to the agreement coolly and with skepticism. It remains a question as to how their agreement will be implemented because their agreement does not have anything to do with the debts of the 33 poor African countries, but with the $80-billion multilateral loans that have been channeled through the World Bank, the IMF, and the African Development Bank. Their agreement still waits approval from the G-8 members that will meet in Scotland next month...without which it will remain in discourse.”
SOUTH AFRICA: "Making Promise Reality"
Balanced Business Day opined (6/6): "In recent years, the World Economic Forum has gained the unfortunate reputation of being little more than a high-level talkshop.... This year promised to be different. This year, the forum set itself the specific purpose of coming up with a clear set of proposals to make UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa's funding report a reality. The aim is to deliver these proposals at next month's G-8 meeting.... The G-8 meeting, in turn, is a critical one for Africa. Apart from the Commission for Africa's report, the meeting will seek to forge consensus on how to best implement a previously agreed upon programme for the development of Africa, called the G-8 African Action Plan...focusing on improving governance on the continent, promoting peace and stability and implementing a range of infrastructure projects in a bid to attract foreign investment and grow economies. There are other aspects too, notably around debt relief, trade reform to allow African products into developed countries, and diversifying African economies.... People would benefit more, and it would be more dignified for Africans, to earn their living through fair trade and a fair price on exports. There can be no disputing this logic, but it cannot be achieved in the current environment without significant financial resources.... Big business is only likely to come to the party in any significant way if it believes its investments are safe, and that political instability and corruption are systematically reduced. And make no mistake, the support of the private sector is vital.... Mbeki and his continental compatriots are undertaking a delicate balancing act in attempting to get leaders of industrialised nations, notably U.S. President George Bush, Blair and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, to agree on how to fund the commission's proposed doubling of aid to Africa. The Gleneagles summit is likely to be a make or break meeting for this funding and development drive."
KENYA: "Why Kenya Should Forgo U.S. Aid"
Ambrose Murunga commented in the independent left-of-center Nation (6/4): "When countries like Kenya choose to forgo badly needed assistance and take moral positions in the face of U.S. threats and demands for double standards of justice for its nationals, the net loser here is the U.S. We may be poor, alright, but we are not about to trade our deeply-held principles of equality and universal justice in exchange for material gain.”
TANZANIA: "Africans, We Need to Be Accountable and Not to Depend on 'Uncles'"
Yahya Charahani commented in the Kiswahili independent, and reliable tabloid Mwananchi (6/9): “British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s trip to Washington might bring good news to Africa as he tries to convince President Bush to agree to a plan to eliminate 100 of the debt of African nations. However, this is not a reason for complacency. Instead of rejoicing at promises of receiving foreign aid or debt cancellation, African countries should work on themselves..... They should implement policies that ensure good governance, fight rampant corruption and strengthen their economies. The truth is, even if all the debts were cancelled and foreign aid was increased, poverty would still remain with us if there are no institutional reforms and if our attitudes do not change. On the other hand, debt cancellation and increase of aid will not avail much if rich countries do not open up their markets for products from Africa.”
|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|