Friday, June 1, 2007

"Your Words of Encouragement Are Very Important to Me"

Chancellor Merkel's Letter to Pope
"Your Words of Encouragement Are Very Important to Me"

2 February 2007

His Holiness
Pope Benedict XVI
The Vatican City

Your Holiness,

I was delighted to read your letter of 16 December 2006 in which you extended your good wishes and shared your thoughts on our EU and G8 Presidency. I am especially pleased that you, as Head of the Catholic Church, support the priorities of the German EU and G8 Presidencies. Let me take this opportunity to tell you that your words of encouragement are very important to me.

We want to use the German G8 and EU Presidencies to push ahead with combating poverty and realizing the Millennium Development Goals. We are focusing here particularly on the development potential of and challenges facing the African continent. In the G8 Presidency, the emphasis is on the continent's economic development and governance as well as peace and security issues. For me it is crucial that G8 relations with Africa move towards a reform partnership. Alongside increased efforts on the part of African countries, we attach importance to greater commitment of the international communities.

Fighting HIV/AIDS and strengthening healthcare systems are important priorities, above all of the G8 Presidency. Our aim is to change the strategies for combating HIV/AIDS so that they take special account of the situation of women and girls. Yet all these efforts are only half measures if healthcare systems are not improved in the long term.

The challenges of transparency on financial and raw materials markets which you mention will be taken up in the G8 framework. Of prime importance here is promoting and extending the Extraction Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which enjoys our full support.

The debt relief initiatives you mention are an important factor in fighting poverty. The steps agreed at the G8 summits in Cologne (1999) and Gleneagles (2005) have given the countries whose debt has been cancelled financial scope which they can use to combat poverty in their countries. To implement the multilateral debt relief for the poorest highly indebted developing countries agreed in Gleneagles, the Federal Government pledged German participation to the tune of some 3.6 billion euro. The German Government is also supporting the setting up of a Debt Sustainability Framework. This is an important instrument for limiting the risk of the poorest countries to fall into excessive debt again. These formerly indebted countries have been able to increase their spending on combating poverty from 7% in 1999 to 9% of GDP in 2005 -- money which can be invested in schools and healthcare infrastructure.

Turning to trade, we have resolved to conclude the so-called Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and the ACP countries in such a way as to promote development.

Furthermore, we will use our EU and G8 Presidencies to move forward dialogue with emerging market economies. Countries such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa are becoming ever more important when it comes to solving global problems such as energy supply, climate change and raw materials. That is why we have set ourselves the ambitious goal of talking to these countries also about difficult issues. After all, only if all strong players in the world shoulder their responsibility will we be able to build more justice and peace.

I believe the priorities I have laid out can provide momentum for sustainable development and thereby help us shape globalization around the world in a spirit of fairness.

Let me thank you once more for your letter.

Yours sincerely,

Angela Merkel

Response of Chancellor Angela Merkel sent to Benedict XVI's letter he sent her on the occasion of the beginning of the German presidency of the European Union and the G8.
Original language: German

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