(Deauville, France) While at the G-8 summit here Friday, President Obama is hoping to garner financial support from his fellow world leaders to nurture the burgeoning democracies in Egypt and Tunisia. "[O]ne of the things we learned in reviewing democratic transitions in the past is those nations that are successful almost always needed to have some kind of expanded and broader based prosperity to show that democracy delivers for its citizens," Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters Thursday.
Even though the United States grapples with its own debt issues, White House officials say easing the growing debt burden of nations struggling to right themselves politically will reap its own rewards."[W]e and the countries both see the very high priority of keeping the countries stable so that the backdrop of democratization is one of economic stability rather than instability and chaos," said David Lipton Senior Director for International Economic Affairs.
The U.S. will also be seeking increased trade with Egypt and Tunisia.
The G8 leaders will hear directly from the potential beneficiaries of their assistance when Prime Minister Essam Sharaf of Egypt and Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia address a G8 session Friday morning.
So far, the administration has pledged $1 billion in debt relief and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has backed $1 billion dollars in loan guarantees.
President Obama has attempted to claim a leadership role in the aftermath of the countries' political uprisings and calls for regime change -- while Egypt and Tunisia's political paths still remain pliable.
"[I]t will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy," Mr. Obama said at the State Department last week. "That effort begins in Egypt and Tunisia, where the stakes are high -- as Tunisia was at the vanguard of this democratic wave, and Egypt is both a longstanding partner and the Arab world's largest nation."
The Europeans will have a chance to reveal their own plans for investment in the two nations this weekend, say White House officials.
For Mr. Obama, this is just the beginning, "[O]ur support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place."