News / Europe

Sarkozy: Critical That G8 Support Arab 'Spring'

French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a press conference at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, May 26, 2011
French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a press conference at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, May 26, 2011
Lisa Bryant

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said it is critical that Group of Eight leaders deliver firm commitments to help Tunisia and Egypt during their two-day summit in France.  

Speaking at a press conference, G8 summit host - French President Nicolas Sarkozy - said it is critical that the popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt succeed.  He said mobilizing "considerable aid" is among the central goals of the G8 meeting here in Deauville.

Sarkozy also saluted as courageous U.S. President Barack Obama's recent keynote speech on the Middle East, singling out Mr. Obama's call for an Israel-Palestinian peace treaty based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Six Day War. Sarkozy said the remarks responded to world expectations of an engaged America.

G8 leaders are expected to discuss the Middle East and Africa later on Thursday and Friday.  Tunisia and Egypt have requested billions of dollars in assistance to get back on their feet.  John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto predicts the heads of state here would deliver - as a way to promote democracy.

"The Arab awakening, the reconstruction of Egypt and Tunisia, speak directly to the core mission of the G8 in the world," said Kirton.

Sarkozy also said he had received support from individual G8 leaders for French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde's candidacy as the next leader of the International Monetary Fund.

Sarkozy said having a European as the next IMF chief makes sense, given the economic problems currently facing the 17-member eurozone.  But he said it is important that emerging countries have a shot at the job in the future.

The leaders meeting in Deauville also discussed nuclear safety and global warming.  And they also examined Internet's powerful role - and whether to impose certain regulations - with top members of the industry.

Google's chairman, Eric Schmidt, says industry leaders want targeted government responses to problems like cyberterrorism and child pornography on the Web, rather than blanket regulation.

"The industry as a whole is concerned that premature regulation ahead of innovation - that is regulation that prohibits something - is of great concern," said Schmidt. "Becuase it shuts off whole new industries, whole new opportunities, whole new innovation."

Schmidt also said it is critical the new generation of Arab leaders embrace the Internet - as did the Arab population who used the Web to drive the popular revolts.

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