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As Scotland Prepares To Host G8 Summit, First Minister Calls for Commitment To Africa

This July, G8 leaders will meet in Scotland for the Gleneagles Summit, the annual meeting of the leaders of the world’s richest countries. The focus of the summit this year will be Africa. Hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the G8 leaders will consider the findings and recommendations of Mr. Blair’s Commission on Africa.

Monday, Scotland hosted a one-day conference on Africa as a prelude to the G8 meeting. Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell says his country supports the recommendations of Mr. Blair’s Commission on Africa. At the conference, he spoke about the need of the developed world to get behind Africa’s efforts for good governance.

Tuesday, from the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, Mr. McConnell told English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua why his country decided to get involved in African issues rather than just play host to the summit.

He says, “When we were announced as the host of the G8 summit for this year, we in Scotland felt this was an enormous opportunity to promote our small country across the globe and to promote everything Scotland has to offer. And that’s been the case at summits before for other locations. But we also felt this was an opportunity to promote the values that drive us as a nation and have driven Scots for centuries, values of caring and values of internationalism. And when the Prime Minister announced the important topics for the summit, particularly that topic of development in Africa, then across the whole of Scotland people wanted to influence the outcome. And ensure that the leaders of the G8 represent public opinion across the globe, but also critically for us, public opinion here in Scotland.”

Mr. McConnell wants to see the G8 leaders take decisive action on Africa when they meet at Gleneagles. “Well, the situation in Africa is an international tragedy. There are about 30,000 youngsters die every day from AIDS or other preventable diseases. The continent of Africa receives less international aid than any other developing continent. There is extreme poverty and incredible waste of talent and individuals who could be contributing so much more to their own countries and to the world. And we believe that for a relatively small commitment on the part of all of us in the rich, developed world we could help Africa move on so significantly. And we think that the G8 leaders are in an ideal position to do that,” he says.

The First Minister of Scotland has a message for the G8 leaders who’ll be visiting Scotland in July. He says, “If the leaders of the G8 and the delegations come here with a resolve to make poverty history in Africa, and if they do that, not only will they be received warmly in Scotland, but they will never be forgotten throughout the world.”