Fourteen million euros, or twenty million by 2020, is the budget allocated by the state each year. A sum spent on world aid via the Directorate of International Cooperation, which works against poverty and helps access to health and education. Twelve countries are supported by Monaco every year: Mauritania, Senegal, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Tunisia, Morocco, Mongolia, South Africa, Lebanon, Niger. And Mali, which was recently visited by Gilles Tonelli, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, in early April. The links between Monaco and Mali don’t date back to only yesterday. Since the creation of the International Cooperation Department in 2006, Mali was one of the first countries to be aided by the Principality. It is still in the top 3 countries that the government supports (along with Madagascar and Burkina Faso) and, humanitarianly speaking, the most. A link made stronger since Gilles Tonelli’s trip to Bamako.
How are the international actions of cooperation chosen?
The team of the Directorate of International Cooperation is doing a fundamental job, quite extraordinary, on choosing which operations to support and which partners to collaborate with. One of the essential points is to have technical coordinators on site. Monaco employs a full-time person in each country who monitors the projects. We receive a lot of solicitations. And the projects examined must fit within our framework.
What is the state of mind in Mali?
It is a country at war. We feel tensions between communities, which is at the heart of their concerns. We have visited many health sites, where there are many problems to solve. Mali is one of the least developed countries in the world in regard to these issues.
Did going in the field change your vision as a statesman in regard to their case?
It was, in my opinion, indispensable, if only to acknowledge what one is leaving behind. When I talk about the model farm from the Jeunesse Action association, an hour’s drive from Bamako, I know what it is all about. I have been in the field, seeing the young people who work and the solutions provided by this equipment. Moreover, the Malian authorities have witnessed that operation, which then inspired other actions in the same direction in the country. When one sees the work done and the results obtained, one can acknowledge that it’s worth doing it. Even if it’s sometimes difficult. We visited the Bamako Orphanage, which was very hard to see. Madagascar, too, was difficult for me at times, especially seeing children who are suffering.
What is the Monaco’s image within these countries?
Monaco has an interest in cooperating and taking on important matters, taking risks. For example, the fight against sickle-cell anemia: few countries are interested in it, because it doesn’t pay anything, but it is essential to stem it. Initially, it is not clear that the projects we support are working. But we always make sure that the State’s money is well invested. And the only way to be sure of it, is to go there. Our image is very strong in these countries, almost disproportionate to our size in the world. We are known for our longevity because we are always committed for 3, 6 or 9 years. And we do not give up en route.
So you were welcomed there?
The influence of Monaco is unmatched, especially because of our specific actions. For example, with the Monaco Collectif Humanitaire, we facilitated heart operations for 50 Malian children. That was only one step. The important thing now is that they can treat these diseases locally. There, we are really appreciated. We have also laid the foundation for a catheterization center in Bamako, which will enable this care. They had the specialists and the skills on the spot, but they did not have the facility. Monaco built the structure. And it is immensely appreciated.
Will the Principality’s International Cooperation directorate extend its support further in the world in the future?
There is still so much to do in the countries we are already supporting. In this dozen, eight or nine are among the poorest on Earth. Those are the places we must act. We will see what happens next, but it seems to me that we still have a lot of programs in these countries. Monaco’s vocation is to go to less fortunate countries and know that our money is well used in helpful projects.
Do these international journeys also reflect well with your negotiations with Europe?
Indeed, it is a breath of fresh air that broadens the horizons and allows us to be revitalized. Confronting other situations may be useful in other areas, it is true.