"We have not concentrated on checking results – we historically have been more eager to spend money…..And I think we should be a good donor in many ways - but that is not only about statistics, its also about content and political leadership.
This year Sweden is spending nearly 16 thousand million kronor, almost US$ 2300 million, to help finance development projects in scores of countries around the world. The lion's share of the help goes to Africa.
While fighting poverty in Africa will still continue to be given priority, African countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone who've gone through bloody conflicts can expect more assistance from Sweden. The government also wants to pay attention to the needs of countries in Eastern Europe such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and the Ukraine as well as the West Bank and Gaza. Peace promoting programmes in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia will also benefit from the new development cooperation policy.
The rich donor nations have agreed in what is known as the Paris Declaration to streamline their assistance and make sure that the help reaches those who need it most. And the Minister for International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson, believes it is high time that Sweden reviewed its development cooperation programme in line with the Paris Declaration.
The focus will also be on making sure that the new development cooperation policy reflects Sweden's moral obligation in promoting democracy and human rights in the world. But not everyone is happy with the proposal.
One of the parties represented in parliament, the Left Party, says the democratic goal, as desirable as the it is, it should not always be the only and guiding objective. Hans Linde, the Party's spokesperson on development issues, told Radio Sweden recently that the fight against global poverty should be given priority.
"I think there is a contradiction in saying that we should fight poverty all around the world and attain the millennium goals, but at the same time say that Sweden will only support countries that are democracies. We know that we have to fight poverty and inequality between men and women - even in dictatorships today. So, it is important that if we want to promote human rights, that we have a dialog and open doors. Today I feel we are talking about closing doors and ending dialogue"
Minister Gunilla Carlsson has given assurances that her government will study the repercussions of the new policy in an effort to reduce the impact on the countries losing Swedish development assistance.
“We have been carefully scrutinising the individual programmes in the beneficiary countries, together with our development assistance authority SIDA and analysed the consequences of phasing out assistance to particular countries, the timing etc - so we are not simply axing beneficiary countries - we have looked into how we can be more focused and have better results in the countries we stay in."Listen to the report:
Remember that? The images themselves weren’t as graphic as it sounds. The whole thing was supposed to help promote European films. Sex sells. Well, Romania is seeing tangible results—An open-air theatre screening European movies is turning around a Bucharest neighbourhood. Radio Romania International's Iulian Muresan has more.
Greece has been struggling to contain devastating forest fires this week that have killed dozens of people. The Greek president declared a state of emergency, and individual European countries have sent aid. Our Brussels correspondent, Quentin Dickenson, points out that there is a program in the works to organize European-wide assistance for situations exactly like this: aid for countries who can’t deal with disasters on their own. The former EU commissioner Michel Barnier recommended such a program 18 months. It’s been welcomed widely. But since then, nothing much has happened.
Three months after elections in Belgium, there’s still no sign that a new government is coming together. Coalition talks collapsed after French-speaking parties refused to agree to give Flanders greater autonomy. The stalemate is fuelling criticism that Wallonia - the poorer, French-speaking South - is feeding off Flanders - without putting anything back. There's growing support for right-wing Flemish parties who want create an independent Flanders. Radio Netherlands’ Vanessa Mock reports, that's worrying Walloons.
When you think bullfighting, you think Spain. Well, France also has a bullfighting tradition, though it’s come under criticism for being, well, too violent. The group that regulates French advertising has banned an ad showing a bull being killed during a match. RFI’s Anustup Roy meets some aficionados and some detractors of the sport.
urning now to Germany- A fresh series of racially-motivated attacks on foreigners over the past two weeks has refuelled a debate over banning the far-right National Democratic Party. The European Union’s justice Commissioner, Franco Frattini, was quoted as saying he’d back a ban. A previous attempt to ban it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003, after it came out that some testimony came from informants in the party. From Berlin, Deutsche Welle’s Hardy Graupner has more.
Now something for you dancers out there—or those of you would who’d like to learn. Michal Kubicki of Polish Radio’s External Service recently made the rounds of dance schools in Warsaw— and found a surge in enrolments during the summer months.
Next week we’ll be doing a special program on China, and its relationship with the EU. To get you thinking about that theme, for this months’ quiz question please send a couple of lines about how China, in any form, affects you in your daily life—this can be anything, from Chinese-made products, immigration, culture. Anything. We’ll pick our favourite answers and read them on the air at the end of the month.
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