Annual Yemeni-German Consultation Talks Conclude Smoothly [Archives:1998/43/Business & Economy]

October 26 1998

The annual consultation talks between officials of the Yemeni and German governments were concluded today. The talks, led by Dr. Volker Ducklau, Director for the Mediterranean, Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, on the German side; and Mr. Ahmed Soufan, Minister of Planning and Development on the Yemeni side, were described as successful. 
Yemen Times talked to Dr. Ducklau about the talks and the bilateral relations. 
Q: You are new to the job? 
A: Yes, I have only been in post sinc July 1998. Before that I was head of the policy planning of the ministry. 
This is my first visit here, and it has been a pleasant on one hand and a successful working visit on the other. 
Q: You have just concluded your talks. How do you characterize Yemen-German cooperation? 
A: Yemen is one of our key partners. in the Arab World. We have a relatively high level of cooperation. 
There has been a traditional friendship between our two countries, which we try to consolidate in every way possible. 
Q: What are the main sectors to which your government contributes? 
A: Let me first state that our two sides have almost the same understanding and strategy. 
We now have a focussed program. Our cooperation deals mainly with human resource development. Thus, we focus on education – especially primary education, as well as vocational and technical training, in which Germany has a successful model. We also push health programs, including family planning. The Prime Minister has specifically asked us to help address the population explosion. 
We finally focus on water supply and sanitation projects, which are an important part of social infrastructure. 
In many of these projects, we link up and work closely with other donors, which share our priorities. 
Q: Are there issues of contention or differences between the two sides? 
A: Of course, there are some minor differences. An example would be the institutional weakness which does not enable a comparable pace in development in all sectors. I don’t want to side-step this question, but the reason for this near-complete match of ideas and approach is that we have similar backgrounds – having re-unified our two countries at about the same time. 
Q: Does the issue of corruption bother you? 
A: Yes, it does. I have noted deficiencies in public service. We have discussed this matter. Let me mention here that there is an anti-corruption clause in each of our agreements. The clause calls on each of the two parties to ” confront and avoid any corrupt practices in the management of the development assistance”. 
Corruption is seen worldwide as an impediment to proper development. So, it is important to tackle this issue We have confidence in your government’s commitment to act on this. 
Q: You mentioned in an earlier meeting your interest in NGOs. Can you give us details? 
A: I am sure many people now see that development is not something to be left solely to government. To achieve success in development the whole society has to be involved. That is why broadening the actors and partners in the development process is important by bringing in the civil society. Thus we have a need for an increasing role for non-governmental organizations. 
This is partly because NGOs can have better access to some parts of the population. In another way, NGOs are better able to mobilize local input. Finally, in a democratic setting, it is important that decision is achieved by a broader base. 
Q: Finally, what are your impressions? 
A: What I found here is overwhelming. I now see why they say that if you come to Yemen once, you have to return.