Nov 11th, 2011 10:45 AM UTC
By David Cole
Since 2005 ONE has been monitoring promises made by the G8 countries to Africa. Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi is unique because he is the only leader to have consistently cut effective aid to Africa since he personally signed the G8 communiqué in 2005.
So last year we launched a campaign called Hurl Berl, which asked ONE members to literally throw Prime Minister Berlusconi out of the G8.
The game was intended to be light-hearted and satirical. But there is a serious message: when leaders make serious commitments they should follow up on them. ONE therefore welcomes Prime Minister Berlusconi’s decision to step aside and, we hope, be replaced by someone who will keep his or her promises to the world’s poorest.
Italy’s financial situation is serious, but as policy-makers are considering budget reforms, we are calling on members of the Italian Parliament not to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. As they look to replace Prime Minister Berlusconi, we are asking that they keep in mind that Italy should never again be associated with broken promises to the world’s poorest – their commitments should be associated with European leadership on aid.
In the meantime we ask you to Hurl Berl one last time and ask your friends to join you!
Jun 7th, 2010 9:30 AM UTC
By Oliver Buston
I wanted to give everyone an update on how our cheeky online game “Hurl Berl” is doing. The response has been incredible. So far it has been played 1.7 million times by 435 thousand people. And it’s only just over 1 week old.
The game has also created some good debate and discussion on the ONE blog, facebook, twitter and beyond.
One thing the ONE team really want to clear up is that WE LOVE ITALY. The game is just a bit of fun aimed at a political leader who didn’t keep his promises, not at Italy itself.
But it has a serious message, which is that political leaders shouldn’t make promises to the poorest people on the planet and then do nothing about them. That’s what Prime Minister Berlusconi has done. The game is a criticism of his policies, not of the wonderful country he represents.
You can read more in an article from last year about Italy by ONE’s founder Bono here and in English here.
May 27th, 2010 4:14 PM UTC
By Weldon Kennedy
Limber up! We want you to try and throw Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi out of the G8 because he’s let the side down once again…We’ve even made a cheeky little game to give you some practise!
We all love a bit of fun, but there’s a serious point to the game – since promising to increase aid to Africa in 2005 PM Berlusconi has actually cut it. spanking new DATA report puts him firmly at the bottom of the class.
On a brighter note, some G8 countries have actually made real strides despite the tough times, and these investments have helped to give over 40 million children in Africa an education and halved malaria deaths in a number of countries.
So, enjoy the game (my top score is 8720) and please pass on to let people know that we don’t just believe in promises but delivery too.
Jul 6th, 2009 8:10 PM UTC
By Chris Scott
Sunday’s special edition of La Stampa which Bob Geldof edited, also presented an opportunity for Geldof to interview Italy’s Prime Minister Berlusconi. In the interview, Geldof asks some very pointed questions about Italy’s failure to deliver on their promises to Africa, and the fact that Italy has only met 3% of what it had promised.
Full account of the interview, courtesy of Eloise Todd, below:
Silvio Berlusconi and Bob Geldof met each other in the courtyard of Palazzo Chigi. The Prime Minister was suffering from a stiff neck, but kept the promise to respond to the criticisms of the rock star famous for his public efforts for Africa. Geldof, straight in from London, wanted to go over the questions and data on Italian aid to Africa.
They found each other again a moment later outside the study of the Prime Minister. They sat in the centre, next to one another, their teams were on two sofas facing each other, the advisers of ONE, the NGO for Africa, on one side, and the men of the Foreign Ministry and Palazzo Chigi on the other, including Gianni Letta and Paolo Bonaiuti.
What followed was not a conventional interview, but an exchange which almost resembled a boxing match. I thought at times that first Berlusconi, then Geldof, would get up and abandon the meeting, but in the end they managed to get to the end of the interview and the encounter stayed gentlemanly.
Geldof: “Signor Presidente, let’s get straight to the point. You are the senior statesman of the G8. In 2001 in Genoa, you created the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, which made ARVs available for free for 3 million people in Africa. Then you participated in the Gleneagles Summit, where you committed to invest 0.51% of GNI in ODA by 2010 and 0.7% GNI by 2015: right now Italy has met only 3% of that promise. From the hope of Genoa to the delusion of Gleneagles: do you feel the weight of this responsibility?”
Berlusconi begins reading from a statement: “You are right. It’s a delay in payments. We, however, were out of government for two and a half years. When we returned, we found a deficit of 110% GDP. Now, because of the economic crisis, this deficit is up to 120% and the European Union will not allow us to stay at this level. When considering the budget law, the Parliament has decided to cut spending. Unfortunately they also cut aid to Africa, and we have started a debate on this. The Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti is committed to getting us back on track with our commitments in 3 years.”
Geldof becomes agitated: “The G8 is in 3 days, not 3 years, as President of this Summit, what are you going to do?”
Berlusconi: “Look, what has happened is absolutely the opposite of what I have been doing personally: this year I financed an orphanage in Thailand and a hospital for children in Brazil. I understand your worry and I very much appreciate the work that you have done for the poorest, but we have had external obstacles standing in our way.”
Berlusconi gives the floor to the diplomatic adviser of Tremonti “we have begun to repay the World Bank our outstanding payments, as well as other international financial organisations. In 2010 we will reach 0.33% of GDP to ODA, and we’ll get to 0.51% by 2015…”
Geldof interrupts: “Excuse me, I am aware of all this. Thanks for the explanation,” and he turns towards the Prime Minister: “I don’t believe you. In order to reach those levels you will have to do an incredible job. And we don’t need any more plans, right now we need action. I’m sick of plans, we just need to act. We must have more ODA. When we cut aid, we take food from the mouths of the starving. We literally take the needles from the arms of patients. Why must we behave like this? Africa is the second biggest emerging market after China. It’s got more democratic countries than Asia. We’re talking about tiny amounts of money: why is it so difficult to find this money for aid? The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel Prime Minister Brown, even President Sarkozy have increased aid, but Italy has cut by €400m. All these countries’ economies are a disaster, but all have kept their promise they made to the poor. Except Italy. How can you lead the G8? Where is your credibility? This is a human question, not a tactical question. We are tired of seeing people that die of hunger!
Berlusconi starts to nod, he has been struck by the image of starving children.
Jul 5th, 2009 4:20 PM UTC
By Helen Palmer
Bob’s guest editing of today’s special Africa edition of La Stampa has caused quite a stir in Italy, particularly his interview with Prime Minister Berlusconi.
In the interview, Berlusconi apologised to Africa for not having kept Italy’s aid promise. La Stampa’s headline is: “Africa, I’m sorry”. Berlusconi promises to rectify his “mistake”. Bob pressed him on Italy’s record of only having provided three per cent of the aid for Africa he promised at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 and said his credibility as G8 host this week was at stake. We will be campaigning further on this in the coming days before the start of his L’Aquila G8 summit on Wednesday. We’ll be looking for concrete actions to show how he will turn Italy’s dismal record around.
But today’s La Stampa edition newspaper is about much more than just Italy’s aid record. Headlined “Africa the Opportunity” its aim is to present a different, more rounded image of Africa to Italian readers, to show all the diversity and vibrancy of the continent on Italy’s doorstep. The newspaper and its respected young editor Mario Calabresi have shown great commitment to the issue, publishing around 30 pages of African content today, and promising more in the week to come.
There are articles from 30 guest contributors covering a range of themes, from Archbishop Tutu’s sermon on the morality of promise-keeping, to Bono’s “Love letter to Italy” and Sophia Loren’s story of growing up with poverty and war. There’s a preview of President Obama’s upcoming Ghana trip, and pieces ranging on subjects as diverse as Africa’s potential for trade and investment, climate change, immigration, music, fashion, and football.
You can see them all, plus photos and video of Bob in action as editor at www.lastampa.it/Africa . There’s an English language section too. You can also read about Bob’s Berlusconi interview in this Reuters story.
Jul 1st, 2009 7:25 PM UTC
By Helen Palmer
Bob Geldof will be guest editing the Italian newspaper “La Stampa” this weekend as part of ONE’s campaign to encourage Italy to improve its record on Africa when it hosts the G8 summit next week.
La Stampa is a respected Italian newspaper based in Turin in northern Italy. Its editor has turned over Sunday’s paper to a dedicated Africa/G8 edition. It will feature stories on a wide range of African themes, and contributions from prominent African, Italian and global figures including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bono, Kofi Annan and Sophia Loren.
So far Italy has delivered just three per cent of the development aid to Africa it promised at the 2005 Gleneagles Summit. ONE is calling on Prime Minister Berlusconi to seize the opportunity of next week’s summit to turn around this abysmal record or forfeit all credibility as G8 host.
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