G8 Information Centre, Online Lectures 2003

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 Picture of Tony Blair

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Featured Content: June 02, 2003

Student Briefing, Blair at the G8

Video file of interview  *

The British Prime Minister came under attack for allegations made against him regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq during a British press briefing delivered at the G8 Evian Summit on June 2, 2003. In any case, in the early afternoon of the first day of the G8 Summit, he updated journalists on talks held by the leaders present at Evian. This followed the G8's morning session that focused on the global economy and the Enlarged Dialogue of the previous night between member states and non-G8 nations and institutions.

Blair spoke of the great potential of getting key 'deliverables' at this year's Summit and of the emergent sense of G8 leaders to change the 'basic relationship' with developing countries to one characterized by partnership and cooperation. Evidently, G8 leaders have realized the importance of the involvement of the developing countries in negotiations regarding that which affect such nations.

Blair conveyed that G8 countries strongly support 'the whole concept of Nepad' and its capacity to sort out the many problems plaguing the African continent. This plan is to be effected through mutual responsibility and partnership. With so many countries agreeing to creation of a peer review mechanism, Blair felt that this represented 'real and significant progress.' The review mechanism will monitor domestic judicial and institutional reform introduced by African governments.

The Prime Minister related the willingness of EU countries to match the commitment made by the United States to increase funding of the Global Health Fund by 1/3 of total funds to be contributed by other nations. Additional non-Global Health funds raised will be filtered to the fight against HIV/AIDS-'the present scourge of the African countries.'

The leaders are working with African nations to create the first African-led peacekeeping force for conflict resolution. This indigenous force would be created under the auspices of the United Nations, and would be better able to resolve conflicts such as Sierra Leone and the Congo by fellow Africans.

Blair further spoke of the famine in Ethiopia. He revealed that 'there has been a real recognition of the immediate problem.' Essentially, there is a 'renewed sense of urgency and commitment to fund whatever is necessary' to deal with the problems of that country.

The G8 was founded in 1975 to bring together statesmen to address the economic crises affecting the world economy. Thus the G8 countries, currently in the midst of a global economic slump, rightly held discussions on the international economy. Blair recounted that they settled on the need for structural reform in Europe and 'the need to make sure that we can develop growth and stability within the international economy.'

With regards to trade, the Prime Minister stated that the leaders recognize the fact that the WTO meeting in Cancun must succeed for Doha.

Prior to ending the press briefing, Prime Minister Blair set out the issues to be discussed later on in the day-the 'twin threats' of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism. He expects the Summit to generate some concrete results in Africa, development, terrorism and the global economy.

Prepared by:
Denisse Rudich
G8 Research Group