Thursday

20th Jun 2019

Wolfowitz called for EU meeting

European Union finance ministers have said they want to meet Paul Wolfowitz, the nominee for next head of the World Bank, before the end of this month, when the appointment is due to be confirmed.

Some finance ministers have expressed concern about the nomination of one of Washington’s foremost neo-conservatives and one of the main architects of the US-led war in Iraq.

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  • Most finance ministers appeared ready to accept Mr Wolfowitz (Photo: Council of the European Union)

"We are asking Mr Wolfowitz to come down to explain what he wants to do concerning certain points that we have put on a paper and we want the (Luxembourg) presidency to phone tomorrow to see if it is possible that he comes," Luxembourg Economics Minister Jeannot Krecke told Reuters on Tuesday (22 March).

"There is some concern about the way Mr Wolfowitz intends to handle the policy of the World Bank", he added.

However, most finance ministers appeared ready to accept Mr Wolfowitz, who, if nominated, would take over in June.

Done deal

According to a high level diplomat, the issue is being perceived as a "fait accompli", with Mr Wolfowitz being seen as a strong candidate at a technical level, who should be surrounded by European deputies.

Dutch Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm said "I did not see any very negative attitudes so I think he is taken as a very serious candidate".

German Finance Minister Hans Eichel said that Mr Wolfowitz, who was nominated by US President George W. Bush, is a "high level candidate, but there needs to be more discussions" before he assumes the post.

"[Mr] Wolfowitz is an "excellent candidate", said Danish Finance Minister Thor Pedersen while the Swedish prime minister, Göran Persson, said Mr Wolfowitz ought to get a chance.

Finance ministers will be looking to hear Mr Wolfowitz's ideas on a range of development issues, including debt relief.

The main concern about his appointment is that he may use the development bank as an institution to further US policies - a charge laid at Mr Wolfowitz's door by several development agencies.

Petition

A petition by development agencies calling on governments to reject Mr Wolfowitz and press for another candidate was onlined last week and has been signed by over 1300 organisations and individuals from 68 countries.

The undersigned say this is "a matter of urgency" and warn that the Bank risks "becoming seen as a tool of the current controversial US foreign policy".

Having a US nominee for the World Bank follows the established practice whereby the Europeans traditionally nominate the head of another international institution, the International Monetary Fund.

Outgoing president of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn is set to leave on May 31, 2005, upon completion of two five-year mandates at the helm of the institution, which lends around $20 billion per year to developing countries.

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