Monday, July 04, 2005

The EU's efforts are acknowledged

Well, somebody likes Commission President Barroso. He was greeted warmly at the fifth ordinary summit of the African Union. The AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare pronounced some very fine words:
“In the name of the African Union I pay tribute to the presence of the EU Commission President Jose Manuel Baroso and EU Commissioner Louis Michel (that) proves the EU's constant commitment alongside us.”
As ever, it is hard to work out who the “us” are, but one must assume that it is the leaders of the various African states, functional or otherwise, that Mr Konare was referring to.

He cannot possibly mean the people of Zimbabwe, whose plight under the murderous Mugabe has been dismissed by the AU as being internal matter, of no significance to other Africans.

Nor can he possibly mean the people in various civil-war ridden and massacre-filled parts of Sudan, which was supposed to have been sorted out by the AU some time ago. It did not happen.

Presumably, he does not mean the people in the other African countries, who have been steadily getting poorer under the benign gaze of the AU and its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

So what is it that the EU has helped the AU or, indeed, Africa achieve? What can the “strong partnership”, “built on equal footing” “in the mutual interest of the two neighbours” boast of?

That last phrase should give a clue. For no African state is actually the neighbour of any European state. What the AU wants to do is integrate in imitation of the European Union and with the help of EU money, which, before you ask, will not go to build hospitals or educate children but to create political structures of integration.

As AFP reported:
“Since it took over from the Organization of African Unity (OUA), created in 1963 just after African nations gained independence, the AU has drawn on the experience of the European Union in its ongoing attempt to foster African union.

Konare also emphasized that Africa requires more financial resources and needs to find the means to finance its large-scale infrastructure projects.”
One of the constant themes commentators have mentioned about the problems African countries face is the proliferation of large-scale infrastructure projects that are not maintained: roads and railways that do not carry enough load, buildings and bridges that collapse.

One of the accusations levelled at the African political elite by Moeletsi Mbeki was that they
“undertake loss-making industrialisation projects that were not supported by the necessary technical, managerial, and educational development”
“36 per cent of the region’s population lives in economies that in 1995 had not regained the per capita income levels first achieved before 1960”.
Good to know that the EU is helping the AU in its successful efforts to help impoverish the continent.

Oh yes, there is one more thing that Barroso is getting involved in.
“Baroso [sic] will also address the several dozen African heads of state who have converged on the Libyan town of Sirte for this meeting focused on African representation within a revamped UN Security Council and on the demands of the continent formulated ahead of the July 6-7 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.”
Of course, the revamping of the UN Security Council is of vital importance to most Africans. And was there not something about changing the Human Rights Commission, the primary complaint being that its members included Sudan and Libya? How are the EU and AU going to solve all this? More to the point how much of that money Chancellor Brown keeps talking about will go on these projects?

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