The Group of 8 nations, meeting in Deauville, France, this week, pledged to provide $20 billion to Egypt and Tunisia over the next three years, building on $1 billion of debt relief and $1 billion in loan guarantees that President Obama pledged last week. The pledge includes about $5 billion from the European Investment Bank. The G-8 member nations indicated they would seek further support from other Arab countries.
“More important than any numerical figure, I think, is the vision that it lays out,” Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs Mike Froman told reporters after the conference. “This is largely a case of trade, not aid; investment, not assistance, over time. It’s really about establishing the conditions under which the private sectors in these economies can flourish and the benefits of growth are broadly shared.”
The G-8 countries created a “Deauville Partnership” with the people in the region, aimed at facilitating democratic transition and fostering sustainable economic growth, according to a statement on the Arab Spring.
A senior administration official speaking to reporters credited Obama’s leadership ahead of the conference for shaping the agreements. Froman said the leaders also spent time comparing the Arab Spring to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and discussing how their predecessors in the G-7 attempted to guide democratic and economic reform in Central and Eastern Europe.
The group also formally issued a demand that Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi leave the country. “Qadhafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfill their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go,” the G-8 nations said in a statement.
The statement also rebuked Syria, demanding that the government immediately stop using force against its citizens, and threatened to consider further measures if the Syrian government takes no action. The agreement was an important step, because Europe has more power to put economic pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than the United States does. The bulk of the Syrian regime's assets are in Europe.
Obama also gained an important group of allies with a formal G-8 endorsement of his plan for the Middle East. The other member nations echoed his view that the changes brought by the upheaval in the region make a peace deal an even more urgent priority.