When Dirk Niebel, a politician of the (neo)liberal FDP, became Germany’s development minister, the amazement in the media was big. A man who once called for the abolishment of the development ministry, suddenly became its head. A kind of paradox, isn’t it?
In the recent past, nearly a year after the last elections which brought his party to power, he showed at least 2 times that his attitude toward development assistance hasn’t really changed.
First, in the mid of September, he torpedoed the building up of a UN trust, with which Ecuador should be compensated for not destroying the Yasuní rain forest to exploit the oil reserves there. It would have been an important precedence: since one obviously cannot expect that Ecuador will let pass a chance to become richer (thus enhancing its own ability to handle problems such as poverty), while we want to protect rain forest, for they are a great sink of carbon dioxide – the idea to pool an equivalent of the value of the oil reserves in a trust was the best idea, how to save the forest and help Ecuador at the same time.
The other story is about the Global Found to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. While other countries promised a lot of money (France, e.g., US$ 1,5 bn for 2011-2013), the German minister didn’t really want to give more than € 200 million (about US$ 274 mn) in 2011. Fortunately, after Chancellor Merkel praised the Found 2 weeks ago in front of the UN General Assembly, her minister felt impelled to promise further € 400 million over 2012 and 2013.
When I see it, I just hope to get my German citizenship at last, and then just wait until 2013 – for this year are planned the next polls.