Merkel says poor nations must do more

September 22, 2010 12:00 am

, UNITED NATIONS, Sept 22 – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday told poorer nations to take greater responsibility for their progress, opening up a development divide at the UN summit on eliminating poverty.

Merkel\’s keynote speech on the second day of the summit here called for more emphasis on free markets and good governance, while Iran\’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed capitalism for all of the world\’s ills.

African leaders among the 140 heads of state and government at the summit urged greater efforts to empower the hundreds of millions struggling to climb out of the deep poverty afflicting much of the continent.

"Development aid cannot continue indefinitely," Merkel told the summit, called to examine progress made in the so-called Millennium goals.

"The task therefore is to use limited resources as effectively as possible. This can only work through good governance which taps that country\’s potential."

She said governments had to be responsible for their growth and make greater efforts to promote a market economy and small businesses.

"Without self-sustaining economic growth, developing countries will find the road out of poverty and hunger to steep to climb," she warned.

Canada\’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper also preached greater accountability by receivers and donors of the huge amounts of money spent each year.

He highlighted a new Group of Eight nations initiative expected to raise about 10 billion dollars over five years to improve the health of children and mothers.

"Our rigorous accountability framework will make it possible to measure progress, monitor results and ensure that funds intended for aid really contribute to a reduction in the mortality of mothers and children on a lasting basis," he said.

Iran\’s Ahmadinejad did not mention the Millennium Development Goals, set in 2000 to be reached by 2015, but he led an onslaught by leaders who blame the West for the world\’s troubles.

"Demanding liberal capitalism and transnational corporations have caused the suffering of countless women, men and children in so many countries," Ahmadinejad told the summit.

He called for fundamental reform of "the undemocratic and unjust" world order.

"The most serious problems of the past millennia were derived from the inhumane and infected creeds, accompanied by unfair and cruel management," Ahmadinejad said.

Zimbabwe\’s President Robert Mugabe blamed what he called "illegal and debilitating sanctions" for his country\’s failure to cut poverty and hunger.

Zimbabwe\’s economy went into freefall with the world\’s highest recorded inflation after his government enacted radical economic policies. Sanctions were imposed over accusations that he rigged his reelection.

"We find it disturbing and regrettable that after we all agreed to work towards the improvement of the lives of our citizens, some countries should deliberately work to negate our efforts," Mugabe said.

Cuba\’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla told the summit his country was successfully meeting the eight key development targets despite the US blockade of the past five decades.

He launched a withering attack on the United States and other industrial powers.

"Financial deregulation and corruption in developed countries have caused a global crisis," the minister said, adding the West would feel the fallout from the troubles.

The three-day summit is looking at ways to finance and give new political impetus to the MDGs, which most experts now predict will not be met by the 2015 target date.

The United Nations has estimated that at least 120 billion dollars will be needed over the next five years to meet the targets, which include: cutting extreme poverty by half, reducing by two-thirds the number of children who die before the age of five, seeking fairer trade, and spreading technological progress.

Ethiopia\’s Prime Miniser Ato Meles Zenawi was among leaders who called for Africa to do more for itself.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we have to do more and better to take charge of our destiny." He said much of the finance has been dependent on Africa "towing the line of the donor community rather than charting our own independent course of action."

Rwanda\’s President Paul Kagame said: "We can no longer rely on the goodwill of other nations — we neither need to, nor should want to.

"We must assume effective leadership, take ownership of the development of our countries and truly deliver for our citizens."


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