English Pages, 29. 11. 2010
Many thanks for the possibility to be here at this important summit, for the opportunity to meet very distinguished African politicians and for getting a chance to visit for the first time Tripoli as well as Libya.
I represent the Czech Republic, a country in Central Europe which used to have – especially in the second half of the twentieth century under the name of Czechoslovakia – very extensive relations with many of the African countries. I would like to state very clearly that we want to build on this basis and to resume, revive and re-establish our relations. I do believe it will be in the interests of both sides.
The Czech Republic is a highly industrialized country and our products were and I hope still are known in many places of Africa. We are ready to create all the necessary political, legislative and institutional preconditions to expand trade and investments between us, and – what is important – in both directions.
I am sure the other European countries have the same interest. There are, however, some problems to be solved. We have to get to know each other much better than it is now, we have to get rid of some old, unjustified misunderstandings and prejudices, there must be greater political stability in some African countries, but the main obstacle for having more extensive economic relations between us and the individual African nations, between EU and Africa, lies elsewhere. It lies in the economic policies and the institutional arrangement on both sides.
The two main problems I see is the continuation of protectionist policies and the imposition of all kinds of uniform “standards” without paying sufficient attention to the level of economic development of individual countries. Not all of such standards are in the interest and in the possibilities of the economically less developed countries. The European countries should accept it.
We also have to define protectionism correctly. Today, protectionism does not only have the form of traditional trade barriers on imports (tariffs and quantitative quotas) but – more and more often – the form of subsidy programs of the developed countries. The recent crisis made the subsidies in many fields bigger than before.
The African countries also should not be forced to accept the currently fashionable CO2 emission standards based on the very problematic hypothesis of man-made global warming. We should not rash and make hasty decisions in this respect. The convincing evidence is still missing.
Let me conclude by repeating that the most important help Europe can provide to the countries of Africa is to improve African firms’ access to the European markets. The aid is not a solution, not to speak about its form and methods of allocation. We have to pay special attention to the resurrection of the march toward liberalisation and free trade. I am sure it will help us all, more than anything else.
Václav Klaus, Rixos Conference Centre, Al Khadra Hospital Bridge, Tripoli, Libya, November 29, 2010
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