05/27/2011, 00.00
MIDDLE EAST
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G8 pledges economic aid to ‘Arab Spring’

Summit participants promise about US$ 20 billion, mostly for Tunisia and Egypt. Aid should help the process of transition towards democracy. In the past, G8 members financed the now toppled dictatorships or made promises they did not fulfil. Participants condemn the violence in Syria and Bahrain and issue an ultimatum against Gaddafi.
Deauville (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The wealthy nations of the G8 plan to provide US$ 20 billion in aid to Arab countries that dismantle dictatorial structures and build democracies in the wake of the jasmine revolution.

The bulk of the assistance is expected to go to Tunisia and Egypt, observers say, but G8 leaders will also push rich Arab countries to help their fellow Arab countries impoverished by the current unrest and past exploitation.

The final proposal should be ready tonight, but G8 members appear bent on establishing at all cost a new relationship with the emerging but fragile democracies after they backed the deposed dictators for decades.

“The most powerful nations on earth have come together and are saying to all those in the Middle East and North Africa who want greater democracy, freedom and civil rights: we are on your side,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said before the summit.

At a joint press conference, US President Barack Obama and French President Nicholas Sarkozy said that aid would help the democratic transition. European Union President Manuel Barroso said the same.

Speaking to AsiaNews, participants to the Arab Spring noted that G8 Members provided aid in the past, but only to the deposed dictators. “The problem,” a young Egyptian said, “is who gets the aid.”

In a report, al Jazeera also pointed out that many promises were made in the recent past, but few have been realised.

A statement is expected tonight to condemn the use of force by the Syrian regime and Bahrain as well as call on Gaddafi to give up power.

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