Mr. Stjepan Mesic
at the International Conference on Financing for Development
Ladies and gentlemen,
This is not the first time that a meeting has convened at such a high level in order to discuss development, or, to be specific, financing for development. Even on the occasion of earlier meetings, including those at lower levels, we knew that this is one of the key issues in the world in which we live. We also knew that it was high time to pay it due attention. And if one can say that we have started to consider the problem of development and its financing at the eleventh hour, as they usually say, then this meeting is being held - without any exaggeration - at the last possible opportunity indeed.
Engineering and technology are developing at an undreamed-of rate. Falling behind is literally becoming a matter of life and death. An achievement which took a couple of decades as late as the first half of the past century is currently accomplished in a couple of years. As a result, a ten-year lag today is equal to a lag of fifty or more years in the midtwentieth century. In the process, the gap between the developed on the one hand and the developing and underdeveloped on the other hand is increasing at an ever faster rate, and its closing is proving to be increasingly more difficult.
The division into those that have and will have, and those that do not have and see no chance of ever having, is becoming ever more pronounced and dangerous. In the globalizing world, wealth is globalized as well as poverty. We must put a stop to that! We have to demonstrate political will, because this is basically the issue, so as to to start overcoming the division into the developed and the underdeveloped, or, in other words, into the rich and the poor.
Do not get me wrong. In free market and free competition conditions it is obvious that all countries cannot get the same share of the cake. But all countries should get the chance to open up the cycle of their own development, stop the headlong fall into poverty and economic dependence followed by political dependence, by using their own potentials, natural, material and human alike.
Underdeveloped countries simply cannot open up this development cycle on their own. This is precisely why we are discussing today the financing for development. Of course, I am not saying that the problem can be dealt with by some kind of economic charity. I am not saying that the developed countries ought to provide some kind of charitable aid in order to resolve the issue. It is true that one also ought to provide, to discuss thoroughly debt write-offs to the poorest countries, to consider non-repayable aid as well - but that can only help to alleviate temporarily the most pronounced consequences, not to remove the underlying causes. Therefore, the problem should be dealt with at its roots and on a longterm basis.
Having said that, I have the following in mind: any country in the world, particularly in today's ever more interconnected and interdependent world, has certain specific comparative advantages and, by relying on them, conditions on which to base its own development. But, let me reiterate once again, there are many countries that are so poor, that lag so much in their development through no fault of their own, that they cannot achieve this goal on their own. This is where the developed countries 'enter the game'. They simply must help - even, let us be quite frank about it, in their own interest as well
Therefore, the developed countries must help, not merely because it is simply inhuman to be a passive witness of conditions in which millions are starving, and thousands and thousands dying of hunger daily, conditions in which millions are condemned, from the very moment of their birth, not to life but merely to survival, with no educational possibilities, no health care, lacking all those elements distinguishing life in developed countries and taken for granted.
The developed must also help because misery, poverty and dependence create the environment fostering terrorism, producing desperate individuals who are easily misled by the abuse of either religion or ideology or a just struggle for the achievement of legitimate national rights. After the eleventh of September 2001, does anyone still need an explanation why it is important to eliminate the causes of global terrorism which currently faces us?
I have said this many times so far, and I shall reiterate it on this occasion: the use of force is necessary and unavoidable in the direct war against terrorists and those that abet them. But this war will yield only temporary and short-term success unless we engage in a long-term action focused on eliminating the environment from which global terrorism originates.
Some may feel this is an additional dimension of the problem we are discussing here, but that is actually not the case. Poverty, underdevelopment, hopelessness, subservience and dependence have always provided fertile ground for the recruitment of people ready to resort to extremely radical methods - and terrorism is certainly one of such methods - in trying to change the current state of affairs. We knew that before, but perhaps we were not prepared to accept it. Today we both know and accept it, because after the eleventh of September nobody is entitled to close his eyes to the fact that global terrorism is directly connected with the growing gap between the developed and the underdeveloped regardless of the masks used by those that inspire it.
Let me conclude: globalization is a process which cannot be stopped. But, if we fail to direct it properly, its negative implications will move to the forefront. Therefore, we must endeavour to replace the globalization of enrichment on the one hand and empoverishment on the other by the globalization of development.
Let us make development a global process and we shall truly lay the foundations of a better world!
If we want to, we can do it
If we want 'tomorrow' to be better than 'today', we must do it!
Statements at the Conference