U.S. Department of State
July 1, 2005
G8 and Broader Middle East and North African Countries Make Progress in Their Partnership To Support Reform
"The established democracies have a duty to help emerging democracies of the broader Middle East." -- President George W. Bush May 31, 2005, Washington, D.C.
U.S. Leadership: With democratic change expanding rapidly throughout the region, President Bush urged G8 leaders to strengthen their support for political, economic, and educational reforms, the empowerment of women, and the rule of law. He noted the first historic Forum for the Future held in Morocco in December 2004, has become the centerpiece of the BMENA partnership as it provides an international venue to support the reform voices in the region. The second Forum will be held in Bahrain in November 2005 co-hosted by the GOB and the United Kingdom as G-8 President. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative are funding several of the BMENA initiatives.
The G8 Stands With Regional Reformers: The President underlined the achievements that are possible when established democracies of the G8 stand with Middle Eastern partners on their political and social aspirations. He pointed to recent successes where the G8 supported the organization and conduct of elections in Lebanon, recently freed from the yoke of Syrian occupation, as the international community jointly with Lebanese citizens demanded the departure of Syrian troops. The G8 provided resources to enable the Palestinians to hold fair and free elections and, by speaking out against human rights abuses and the jailing of political opponents, the established democracies were able contribute to the release of political figures, such as Ayman Nour, and help protect participants in street protests.
Democracy Assistance Dialogue (DAD): A key initiative under the BMENA umbrella, the Democracy Assistance Dialogue held its first meeting June 20-21 as 120 women civil society leaders throughout the BMENA region met in Istanbul to discuss issues of womenís participation in public life hosted by a Turkish NGO. On July 20-23 in Venice civil society leaders from across the region will come together to prepare an agenda on political participation and elections to guide the Dialogue meeting with governments in October in Rabat. The Rabat meeting will represent the first joint session of governments and civil society. DAD activities focus on womenís empowerment, rule of law, and transparency. U.S. and other G8 support will enable the DAD to become a critical regional forum for civil society and governmental partnerships.
Entrepreneurship: With a grant from the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative, two training centers to develop local entrepreneurship are being established in Bahrain and Morocco. The Governments of Morocco and Bahrain plan to host inaugural events for their centers in September and November, 2005, respectively.
International Finance Corporation (IFC): The IFC has established its regional Private Enterprise Partnership Facility to provide technical assistance to promote improvements in the business and investment climate to support the growth of private enterprise and small- and medium-sized businesses. The U.S. has pledged $15 million toward the G8ís goal of $100 million over three years. The IFC is inaugurating activities across the region and is now active in 13 countries and the West Bank/Gaza.
Network of Funds: The Arab Monetary Fund has taken the lead in establishing the Network, which will bring together regional and multilateral finance institutions and advise governments.
Literacy and Education: U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings joined her G8 and BMENA counterparts at the first Education Ministerial at the Dead Sea on May 23, 2005. Ministers agreed to a Framework for Progress that outlined the importance of education reform to the prosperity of the region. Ministers also adopted the BMENA Framework for Literacy Action with the goal of increasing literacy by an addition 20 million people in 2015, with a special emphasis on female literacy and assisting the region to halve the illiteracy rate by that date.
Task Force on Investment: The private sector Task Force, led by the Arab Business Council, met at the Dead Sea on May 21, 2005. It will advise governments and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on barriers to investment in the region.
Microfinance: At Sea Island, the G8 asked the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) to develop a training center to help promote microfinance for the broader Middle East and North Africa. GCAP set up this "Center of Excellence" in Jordan this spring and has conducted microfinance assessment missions to several countries in the region.