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Réunion des ministres chargés de la Coopération au développement - Quel sera l’impact de la crise financière sur le monde en voie de développement - Communiqué de presse/document non produit par l'ONU Français
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Source: European Union (EU)
30 January 2009

Prague meeting of Development Ministers: What Impact will the Financial Crisis have on the Developing World

An informal meeting of EU Ministers for Development Cooperation was concluded in Prague.

The Ministers have agreed that the European Union should help especially the Least Developed Countries cope with consequences of the financial crisis. Even in times of budget cuts, developed countries should live up to their commitments, since stability and prosperity of developing countries is in everyone’s interest. The Ministers have also supported a rapid solution of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and discussed several other development cooperation issues.

The two-day meeting at the Prague Congress Centre, chaired by Czech Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Kohout, was attended by Ministers for Development Cooperation of EU Member States, European Commissioner Louis Michel and representatives of the European Parliament. Among guest speakers were representatives of the World Bank, United Nations, Moldovan Minister of Finance Mariana Durlesteanu, as well as the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg.

The main issue discussed was the adaptation of development aid to the current situation of financial and economic crisis. According to Philippe Le Houérou, Vice-President of the World Bank, and Mario Amano, Deputy Secretary General of the OECD, the world economy’s slowdown will hit particularly severely the Least Developed Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Neither will developing countries such as China or India be unaffected. Large numbers of their inhabitants may again fall below the poverty line.

In this situation, it is essential that rich countries keep their promise in terms of financing for development and search for new solutions. As Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel emphasised, the EU remains the largest donor of aid worldwide. A number of EU member states may, however, have difficulties meeting their commitments. The EU as a whole has committed to provide 0.56% of its total Gross National Income in aid by 2010. As of today, it provides only around 0.4%.

New member states should also contribute a larger share of total EU aid. In this context, the Moldovan Minister of Finance Mariana Durlesteanu welcomed the Czech Presidency’s emphasis on Eastern Europe as one of the recipient regions of development cooperation. The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia, and the like-minded donors have valuable experience and cultural understanding that can used to the benefit of the Eastern European region.

Five sixths of the world population live in developing countries today, yet the international financial institutions, founded after World War Two, are still guided by the interests of the richest countries. EU Development Ministers therefore support greater representation of developing countries in these organizations. As Jan Kohout confirmed, the Czech Presidency will ensure that this recommendation be heard at the G20 meeting to be convened in London in April.

The Ministers also discussed the current humanitarian situation in Gaza. Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg briefed his partners on the Czech Presidency’s activities that lead not only towards peace but also to the improvement of living conditions in Gaza. The EU also supports the planned donors‘ conference to take place in Egypt. All Ministers underlined the urgent need to ensure access of humanitarian workers and material to the Gaza Strip. A number of EU countries have already confirmed their readiness to provide humanitarian and reconstruction aid.

Access to sustainable sources of energy on the local level in developing countries was another important item on the agenda. Yoshiteru Uramoto, Deputy Secretary-General of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), pointed out that the energy crisis Europe faced in early January amounts to everyday reality for almost two billion people living in poverty. This is especially true for inhabitants of rural areas with almost no access to basic energy sources. Prague meeting’s participants therefore appreciated the Czech Presidency’s decision to focus on this theme.   

Presidency Press Lines on Gaza

At their informal meeting in Prague on 29 – 30 January 2009, EU Development Ministers had an exchange of views on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, in the presence of the President of the Council, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, and the Commissioner for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel.

The following points were made:
- need to urgently open the Gaza crossings on a regular and predictable basis and to increase the number of trucks allowed to enter Gaza
- rehabilitation, reconstruction and sustainable economic recovery will only be possible if the Gaza crossings are open for humanitarian assistance, commercial goods and persons.

Furthermore, Ministers underlined the importance of:
- full respect for obligations under International Humanitarian Law
- a strong political process, resulting in the creation of a viable democratic Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.

Zuzana Opletalová
Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel.: +420 224 182 052
GSM: +420 724 034 154

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