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Posted July 15, 2010

(PARIS, JULY 14, 2010)

France Unveils Bastille Day Framework Initiative for Haiti's Reconstruction

Ever since Haiti was ravaged by the devastating earthquake of January 12, France has called for international debt forgiveness for Haiti.

For too long, Haiti has been saddled with the burden of foreign debt. Her development crippled by foreign debt service payments, she has for too long staggered from catastrophe to catastrophe. The disaster that has befallen the Haitian people is clearly not merely the result of January's earthquake. It is in part the result of long-term economic and social policies.

If a clean break from this disastrous cycle is to be made in the current reconstruction efforts, it will require bold action not just from Haitians but also from creditor nations and international financial institutions.

Today, I am pleased to announce our boldest initiative yet to free up the funds that will be so essential for Haitians to rebuild their country after the devastation of the earthquake.

The French Republic and Haiti share deep ties of history, language and culture. Bastille Day is a perfect occasion to celebrate the cherished values of our republic--values that were also a beacon to the Haitian people when they cast off the shackles of slavery, and founded the second republic of the Americas.

In the context of our national holiday, we are thus announcing the dawn of a new era of cooperation between France and Haiti - a partnership based firmly in these shared values. Whereas our nations' relations were, historically, at times tumultuous, today we start with a clean slate united by compassion and cooperation.

Under the Framework Initiative for Haiti's Reconstruction, unveiled today by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, France is repaying the historic debt of 90 million gold francs Haiti paid to France following the former's independence at the dawn of the 19th century.

Some will say the current context of the global financial crisis is no time for such an ambitious initiative. Yet it is precisely in such times of crisis, particularly as we work to rebuild the global financial system, that our deepest-held values are most important. « Liberty, equality and fraternity » : these must be the pillars of the new global financial architecture if we want to assure that - this time around - Haitians too can share in economic development.

The French government is proud to announce our new Framework Initiative, and we encourage other governments to follow in our example, and take responsibility and action to correct the mistakes of the past in this hour of Haiti's greatest need.

The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is working side-by-side with the Haitian government and local civil society sector in facilitating plans for the transfer of the required funds. At a domestic level, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is working with the Central Bank of France, with advisement from the OECD, IMF and European Central Bank to prepare a long term budgetary plan. The Ministry is also working concurrently and liaising closely with the Overseas secretary as well as our Eurozone partners.

Under the new framework, the 90 million gold francs, which Haiti paid France from 1825 until 1947, will be reimbursed in a yearly budget over the course of 50 years. Economic advisors working with the Ministry have calculated that the total sum amounts to € 17 billion including adjustments for inflation and a minimal interest rate of 5 percent per annum.

A total budget of €2 million will be released by the end of the month. Minister Bernard Kouchner will be available for further comment after the celebration of the national holiday.

RELATED TEXT: France intention to repay Haiti 90 million gold francs, but now 21 billion dollars, in reparations, a hoax

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