President Sirleaf Arrives in Berlin, Meets German Officials

Tuesday, 22nd May 2007
President Sirleaf and members of her delegation in a meeting with German officials.
President Sirleaf and members of her delegation in a meeting with German officials.
Photo Credit: Adama B. Thompson/Executive Mansion
Berlin, Germany - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday held talks with senior German government officials including Chancellor Angela Merkel, at the Bundeskanzleramt, the official seat of government in Berlin. The discussions, according to an Executive Mansion dispatch, centered around Liberia-German cooperation and other regional and sub-regional issues, ahead of the pending G-8 meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany in June.  Dr. Merkel reiterated her government’s decision to cancel the bilateral debt Liberia owes her country.

On Liberia’s multi-lateral debt, the German Chancellor said a solution must be found within the G-8 process to the address the debt problem, estimated at more than 3.7 – billion US dollars. “The issue will be placed on the agenda, she assured the President, “We will ensure that you get a little room to breathe,” the first female Chancellor of Germany noted, assuring President Johnson Sirleaf that Germany will exert its influence to ensure that the debt problem is addressed.  Chancellor Merkel welcomed the Africa Partnership Forum now taking place in Berlin, describing it as a unique opportunity for fostering partnership between Africa and Germany.

Responding, the Liberian leader congratulated Chancellor Merkel on her election as Chancellor of Germany and as Chairman of the G-8 conference in June.

The debt burden, the President pointed out, continues to be a major impediment to the country’s development initiatives. The President lauded the German government for announcing the cancellation of Liberia’s bilateral debt. She informed the German leader of measures now in place to put the country back on track, through among other actions, the implementation of sound fiscal policies and the tapping of the traditional sectors of growth, including iron ore, rubber, forestry and mining.

The creation of jobs for the citizenry particularly for the youth, the President acknowledged, remains a major challenge. “We must put our people back to work; it is important for Liberia to succeed,” she emphasized.

Meanwhile, Germany has announced additional funding to support development initiatives in Liberia. At a meeting Monday with President Johnson Sirleaf, the State Minister, Gernot Erler, announced that his country was making available 11.5 million euros (14.95 – million US dollars) to support reconstruction in Liberia.

At the same time, a delegation of German businessmen has announced plans to visit Liberia in October. The Group, under the auspices of the German-African Business Association, made the disclosure Tuesday, during a session to, among other issues, discuss business potentials in Liberia. The President who spoke at the session, described the business potential in Liberia as good, and urged the Germany business community to take advantage of the numerous investment opportunities Liberia now offers.

The President later on Tuesday held talks with the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. A meeting with the Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark, Ms. Ulla Tornaes, is slated for Wednesday, prior to a keynote address the President will deliver at the 8th edition of the Africa Partnership Forum. Planning Minister, Dr. Toga McIntosh, Liberia’s ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, Sedia Massaquoi Bangura, is accompanying President Johnson Sirleaf to the discussions.

The President arrived in Berlin on Tuesday, following a week-long visit to the United States.  

She returns home on Friday this week.