Group of Eight leaders promised $20 billion in aid to Tunisia and Egypt on Friday and held out the prospect of billions more to foster the Arab Spring and the new democracies emerging from popular uprisings.
DEAUVILLE – Likening it to the fall of the Berlin Wall that changed Europe, G8 leaders ending an annual summit in France launched a partnership for North Africa and the Middle East that ties aid and development cash to progress on political and economic reforms by states which have thrown off autocratic rulers.
Tunisian Finance Minister Jalloul Ayed said French host President Nicolas Sarkozy had proposed a total of $40 billion in financial support, though details were sketchy on whether this had broader backing and which countries might be eligible.
He proposed and now plans are being made – for meetings of finance and foreign ministers to be held between now and the start of July, to flesh out this programme by country and by project,” Ayed told a news conference.
In their statement, to be issued formally after the two-day summit in the northern resort of Deauville, G8 leaders signalled they strongly support the aspirations of the Arab Spring as well as those of the Iranian people”.
The changes under way in the Middle East and North Africa are historic and have the potential to open the door to the kind of transformation that occurred in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” the G8 planned to say in a communique obtained in advance by Reuters.
They said special development banks could provide over $20 billion, including 3.5 billion euros from the EIB, for Egypt and Tunisia for 2011-2013 in support of suitable reform efforts”.
Senior Egyptian and Tunisian officials met the leaders of the G8’s seven Western powers plus Russia to underscore their need for massive international support for economies knocked out of kilter by the popular uprisings against long-serving authoritarian leaders. Tourism in particular has been hard hit.
We are truly very satisfied with the very strong, clear and precise statements proffered by all of the G8 nations, and the financial institutions,” said Tunisia’s Ayed.
It’s very clear that everybody wants to help us.”
In a report to G8 leaders on Thursday, the International Monetary Fund said the external financing needs of oil-importing countries in the Middle East and North Africa would top $160 billion over the next three years.
The IMF says it can provide around $35 billion to help stabilize countries’ economies but the bulk of financing will need to come from the international community.
The World Bank on Tuesday unveiled $6 billion in new funding for Tunisia and Egypt.