/ languages

Choisir langue

World financial crisis

Europe will not leave behind poor countries, says Sarkozy at aid conference

Article published on the 2008-11-29 Latest update 2008-11-29 15:53 TU

Sarkozy addresses the UN aid conference in Doha, 29 November 2008(Photo: Reuters)

Sarkozy addresses the UN aid conference in Doha, 29 November 2008
(Photo: Reuters)

At a United Nations aid conference that opened Saturday in Doha, Qatar, aimed at helping developing countries to cope with the global economic crisis, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the European Union would not “sacrifice” poor countries in this time of financial crisis. Sarkozy was is of the only representatives from a major developed region to attend the conference.

“While we all face growing deficits and rising unemployment, we have decided not to sacrifice the millennial goals, and we will keep to the promises that were made in terms of public aid to development,” he said, speaking in his role as President of the European Union.

One of the millennial goals aims that countries committed to in 2000 is to reduce extreme poverty in the world by half by 2015.

The 27-member European Union gave 61 billion dollars (47 million euros) in development aid in 2007, or 60 per cent of all global aid.

Sarkozy said the reason his attendance at the meeting underscores Europe is commitment to its promise of giving 0.7 per cent of its GDP to development aid by 2015.

“As the president of the European Union, I had to be here in Doha to show, without ambiguity, that the development of the countries most in need cannot be sacrificed for the crisis,” he said.

Sarkozy and the European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso are the only representatives from western developed regions scheduled to address the meeting.

Interview: Jean Merckaert, Catholic Committee Against Hunger and For Development

29/11/2008 by Aidan O'Donnell

Jean Merckaert of the French NGO Catholic Committee Against Hunger and For Development, who is attending the conference, told RFI that the aim is to include non-developed countries in decisions on world finance.

“You had the G20 very recently deciding new rules for global finance, and excluding the majority of countries in the world,” he said. “And there is a big question mark about the role of the UN and the 170 countries who are not part of the G20.”

Merckaert said one aim of the conference is to create an international tax organization to address tax evasion, which he says costs developing countries massive amounts of money each year.

“Tax evasion for developing countries is more than 500 billion dollars a year. This is more than five times the total of aid given by rich countries,” he said.

“You have a country like Ghana, for instance, losing half of its budget every year,” he added. “And so far there is no international organization tackling this issue.”