SEA ISLAND SUMMIT 2004
For Immediate Release
June 9, 2004
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS
Briefing Room East
Sea Island, Georgia
6:15 P.M. EDT
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Why don't you begin by just -- the Prime Minister took us through a good chunk of the day, but why don't you just pick up and brief people on the balance of the day that he wasn't able to speak to?
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah, thanks, if it's all right, I'll just do that very briefly.
The afternoon session, as predicted, focused on nonproliferation and the broader security issues, including the so-called safety initiative, which is the secure travel initiative.
The Prime Minister led the discussion this afternoon on the nonproliferation agenda. He raised the need to strengthen the IAEA and put in place better control systems on the sale and distribution of nuclear technology. He raised the concerns with respect to Iran and the Democratic Republic of Korea. And leaders reviewed the broad security issues.
Also raised was the so-called PSI -- the Proliferation Security Initiative, of which Canada is a member. The group welcomed Russia as a participating member to the PSI as well. This initiative is very significant in dealing with the integrity of the transportation system -- maritime, in particular, although airline as well -- on the illegal transfers of technologies of nuclear and biological.
Leaders redoubled their efforts and commitments to the war on terrorism, and that was it for this afternoon. This evening is the regional issues discussion.
I should also just briefly point out that on the website you will see the release of leaders' statements on a number of items. The leaders' statement on trade is a very fulsome endorsement of the need to not waste any time on getting to a framework agreement, which leaders endorsed. That's further to the Prime Minister's comments this morning in respect of the leaders' discussion.
You also had the release of the document to which the Prime Minister spoke this morning on the applying the power of entrepreneurship to the eradication of poverty; a number of initiatives there, as well as the political statement and action plan on the broader Middle East and North Africa initiative.
Both of those are quite significant. If I could, just a word on the broader Middle East and North African political statement -- very significant welcoming of the resolution in Iraq; commitment at the G8 level to deal with the issue of Iraqi debt -- in which Canada is a leader, I should add, having signaled many months ago that we would move to a vast majority debt relief in the context of the Paris Club. And that's a significant gesture, as well, on the G8 part to continue in this regard.
The references to responding to voices in the Middle East was certainly what leaders heard at lunch from their guests, member countries of the region. And Canada is very much part of the commitments being made in this document, including the increased financial facility for entrepreneurial venture capital.
I'm happy to take questions.
Q I have two technical questions. First of all, the question of who's coming to the G8 meetings -- the Italians were saying this morning that the G8 is considering inviting India and China into the G8; not as a separate G20, but actually spanning it to a G9, 10 or 11. How does that relate to Mr. Martin's idea of a G20 which would be separate from a G8? Are these conflicting visions, and is one gaining more popularity than the other?
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I did not, myself, hear the Italians say that. It must have been in a bilateral or in a press briefing.
I think what it reports and refers to is an increasing awareness on leaders of the G8 that the G8 needs to acknowledge that global power and influence are not uniquely in the hands of the G8. As Prime Minister Martin has said now for some time, we need to build on other experience that brings in emerging markets that have increasing prominence for our global economic wellbeing and security. And leaders have informally, but not formally, discussed how that might be done. Mr. Martin has on several occasions, as he referred to in his briefings with you, raised the issue of a G20 gathering that is not in competition with but complementary to a G8.
I've heard no discussion of "it's time to abolish the G8," either bilaterally, informally or certainly not formally.
Q The other question was regarding Iraqi debt. I didn't see the statement, but is the G8 now in agreement to go for forgiveness of the vast majority, or are they sticking to substantial, or what is the consensus?
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The document doesn't say either vast majority or at least substantial. It acknowledges that the appropriate process for debt relief is within the Paris Club and the non-Paris Club creditors, and that there must be an IMF plan. We have recently received the analysis from the IMF, which, as I indicated yesterday, indicated in its analysis of the Iraqi debt sustainability a requirement to be really quite significant with at least substantial as the minimum amount.
This is more properly now left in the hands of the appropriate processes that the G8 and others have put in place for debt relief, and the leaders were simply giving impulsion to that by saying that we should seek to make significant efforts in this regard and bring resolution to it, work towards this in the context of 2004, which would be a very significant challenge but one that will be worked out with great effort.
And it's in the text of the regional document.
Q (In French) -- Canadian authorities would consider more technical --
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: (In French) -- $300 billion for Iraq within the framework of NATO. We have received no request as of yet from the Iraqi government.
Only in the framework, maybe, of the meeting to be held by NATO at the end of this month could this be considered.
SAVANNAH: We've lost the feed here. We can't hear what you're saying.
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can you hear us now?
As I was saying, Canada does have a program to train police officers that's operating out of Jordan. And in the framework of NATO, we'll see whether it will be possible or not for the government to do something in the technical area. This may be a request of that we could support. But we do not have, at this stage, the capacity -- and this is something that is shared by our allies. As you know, we have more than 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, and we have a large contingent in Haiti as well.
Allow me to stress the facts, that the Prime Minister did stress the issue of governance and institution building. We do have a new instrument in Canada, that's the Canada Corps. And it could be a major institution for the participation to the institution-building effort in Iraq.
Q I have a question regarding the WTO and the call made to seize the opportunity by the end of July. During both bilateral meetings, did the Prime Minister make much progress in solving the agricultural issue, particularly the one that happened this morning with the President of the French Republic?
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As you know, the document supported by the leaders today has stressed that agricultural subsidies are very important for this series of discussions.
A discussion is taking place amongst European countries. We have received some correspondence from the European Commission from Mr. Fischler who sent a letter to the U.S. making a proposal indicating that they are indeed willing to negotiate a moratorium on agriculture subsidies. The Europeans need to -- this is one of the competence of the European Commission to negotiate this. But France has taken a rather more aggressive position during those negotiations and for the Prime Minister, it was important to underline the fact that progress must be made during the next few weeks.
Q The Prime Minister was talking about the number of bilaterals, more than any other leader and such during the last couple of days. Can you give us a sense of what his energy level is like, his stamina, how he's feeling. It's been a grueling campaign in general but a grueling past several days.
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think it's a fair observation over the last couple of days he's logged a lot of miles. He alone among the leaders had to travel to Normandy and back. It was a great pleasure for him, a moving experience.
But in terms of his energy level, he's doing very well. We're going to give him a chance to rest in the morning and then we're going to be working hard at it all day tomorrow. But you know Paul Martin, he goes like a dam and he's working very hard, and he ought to work hard. We're in a neck-and-neck battle, and we're not going to let a thing slip by.
Q Just on another matter, just on over-fishing which is a completely other thing. Did that come up with Chirac? I'm not sure if he said that when he had his presser. And was any headway made with Chirac in general on over-fishing? For anybody.
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can speak to that. He in fact in his press briefing did indicate that he raised over-fishing with President Chirac who very much shared two things. One was the need for enforcement by member states of the EU competency and would do his part to undertake that point of view in discussions within the EU. And secondly, he shared with the Prime Minister that this is an issue of global significance in terms of the global commons of the fish stocks, and not just off the nose and tail of Canada, but frankly around the world, where fish stocks are being depleted by piracy and unregulated fishers. And this is something that Canada and Europe shares an interest in advocating and seeking to bring a world regime of greater strength and significance.
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: If I can just add, in speaking with the Prime Minister, that he was quite taken by the conviction and the enthusiasm that the French President expressed with respect to this question. I think it probably is fair to say that it exceeded our expectations.
The importance of that move, having France with all of its weight and all of its girth within the European Commission say that it is going to ask of its fellow member states that they enforce the rules that are there, very important piece of progress. And the Prime Minister was extremely pleased to hear it.
Q On the broader Middle East initiative, many things were mentioned in there, training 100,000 new teachers, a quarter million new loans, things like that, but no mention of the resources to support this.
Is it fair to say that this document is essentially a set of goals with the money to come later? Did Canada pledge any new money? Did any other country that you know of pledge any new money for this?
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me speak to that, because the document, the action plan has two parts to it. Let me do the second part first.
The second part lists a number of activities in which member governments are already undertaking in their aid programs, bilaterally or multilaterally, including you will see a number of examples where Canada is mentioned. And what we are indicating is that we intend and expect to use our existing programs to coordinate among ourselves as appropriate, but also to in a sense identify best practices and travel them across the region where countries are asking us to support their voices for reform.
The first part of it does speak to new initiatives and I would just like to highlight some of them. One is a forum for the future, which will bring together at the ministerial level leaders from the G8, foreign ministers, ministers of economic affairs, with the participating countries to discuss political, economic and social reforms in the region. Not at huge cost, but having people get together formally to discuss this important issue is a significant achievement.
Secondly, there is a specific equipment indication that we want to launch a micro-finance initiative. This is $100 million of new funding, to which the G8 is committing itself. And yes, Canada has indicated that we would do our share to bring this new financial facility for micro-financing to the region and we look forward to doing that.
On the aspect of literacy, it was important for leaders, they felt, to have a target of real people that we wanted to commit to literacy on. And that was to -- an additional 20 million people in the region to meet the literacy goals by 2015, which does parallel by the way the millennium development goals. And the 100,000 teacher commitment is one of the instruments to achieve that outcome for the region. And, yes, we have committed to our collective programming and aid resources to achieve that. And I think that's a very significant objective.
And finally, support for business entrepreneurials and leadership training, that will be also within existing programming.
The final point I should make is the democracy action dialogue or the democracy assistance dialogue is designed not just to have governments involved, but organizations of civil society, foundations and institutions which are already working but perhaps could work with an accelerated demand that we see coming from the region for things such as voter education, civic society engagement, how do you participate in the community and political activities.
We've got a number of institutions globally that are involved, and we look forward to using those -- including, in the Canadian case, this could well be another example of where the Canada Corps could be quite significant in galvanizing a civil society interest in Canada to meet the challenges that the region itself is identifying for their objective for reform and our opportunity to respond.
Q Can I just add, just a follow-up, given the outrage in the Arab world when the initial draft of the U.S. document was leaked in February, can you point to what compromises were made to get the proposal through at the G8?
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not going to review the compromises, except to underscore what leaders heard today from the leaders -- G8 leaders heard today from the leaders of the region, and that was their own commitment going back to the UNDP Social Development Report, the references to the Alexandria Library Declaration, the SONA Declaration and more recently the Arab League Summit, where the voices from the region were talking about the need for reform.
The President has gone out of his way, as the Chair, the G8 leaders have gone out of their way, to emphasize that this is not the West defining for the region what steps and what the face of that reform ought to be, but we were responding with a menu of activities from which those that wished to participate could do so.
And I think it was important for all of us to take every opportunity we can to indicate that this is a response from voices in the region, and we are there to respond specifically to their requests and needs as they've identified them. That's very much the spirit in which Canada does its programming today and the way in which we look to enhancing it in the future.
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, we've got one last question here in the middle row, and then we've got to get going.
Q Thank you. How important is it for the United States Senate to ratify the Law of the Seas, since they have yet to do that?
SENIOR CANADIAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, from a Canadian perspective, very important. The whole development of international law in managing global commons is hugely important. We're not going to deal with some of these global commons issues, whether it's sea-related in terms of fish or seabed exploitation, without common commitment to global institution building, global legal framework; and we very much support that.
Ladies and gentlemen we've got to get going here in Sea Island. Thank you.
6:46 P.M. EDT END