|The Courier N° 156 - March - April 1996 - Dossier: Trade in Services - Country Report : Madagascar (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)|
Criteria for Country Reports
Thank-you very much for reinstating the Courier's Mailbag. I hope you will allow me, through your columns, to express my views on your Country Reports.
in the time that I have been reading the Courier, I have not seen any report on Cameroon or Nigeria and I would be interested to know the criteria used by the editorial board in deciding which countries to cover in this section. Is your decision based on the extent of development in the country, the state of democracy or some other factor?
In addition, the Courier seems to be paying less attention to African countries at a time when I think a greater focus on the continent is merited. If you consider the problems of instability, dictatorship, poor human rights and economic under development, there are a lot of issues which could be covered.
I would be grateful if you clarify this for me. I would also suggest an increase in the number of countries covered in each issue.
Emmanuel N'Buba, Nkambe, Cameroon
The aim of the Courier's editorial team is to achieve a fair balance in its Country Reports. With 70 ACP States, we would like, ideally, to cover each country every five to six years and when the annual programme is being drawn up, we always look first at when countries were last featured. There are, however, other factors which we have to take into consideration. The extent of a country's development is no tone of these, but we do consider human rights and democracy issues.
Where democracy is completely larking and widespread human rights violations are occurring, we take the view that it would not be appropriate to publish a Country Report, although we may feature the state in question elsewhere in the magazine (for example, in the 'Close-up section). Despite what you say in your letter, this fortunately is not the situation in most ACP countries, even if some face practical difficulties in their democratic transition.
We should stress that the above policy is not due to a wish to avoid critical reporting. Indeed, readers will be aware that we regularly interview opposition spokespersons es well as other economic and social actors in the countries that we visit, with a view to providing a fair overall picture, including constructive criticisms of government policy. We do not believe it is possible for us to do justice to a country where we are able to speak only to people who offer the 'official' line.
I am afraid that, for personnel and budgetary reasons, we are not able to expand the number of Country Reports in each issue.
Cameroon is due to be featured in The Courier later in 1996. We do not currently have any plans for a Country Report on Nigeria.
Democracy and refugees
Your informative Dossier on refugees last year highlighted, among other things, the problem of wars in Africa in which many innocent citizens are dying. What is the role of the OAU in this area? I have not seen a conflict on the continent being solved by the OAU. Instead, the parties tend to turn to developed countries for solutions.
I believe that to tackle the refugee problem in Africa, it would be helpful if African Heads of State learned to accept defeat in elections, and to hand over power peacefully when this happens. This would surely help to avoid civil wars and thus, cut down on the number of people fleeing from their countries.
Tengeg Peter Tendon, North West Pro vince, Cameroon
Conflicts and their causes
I enjoy reading the Courier because, as a teacher, I find it very informative and educational. However, I suggest that you further enlighten your reading public by covering 'world conflict areas'. We hear of many countries plagued by civil wars, but it would be interesting to learn something about the causes of these conflicts, and about any peace efforts that are being made.
CB. Semetey, Obawale, Ghana
Europe on top?
Why, in the inside cover page of every issue of The Courier, do you put the map of Europe above that of Africa? Is it due to geography or for some other reason?
Anand Shukla Bilaspur, India
The ACP countries are all south of Europe and the map page reelects this reality. The design is not intended to have any political significance.