Foreign relations of Madagascar
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Madagascar historically has remained outside the mainstream of African affairs, although it is a member of the Indian Ocean Commission, the Organization of African Unity (now renamed the AU) and the Non-Aligned Movement. Madagascar was admitted to the Southern African Development Community in 2004.
Other Significant Relations
Active diplomatic relationships are maintained with Europe, especially the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, as well as with Russia, Japan, India, Indonesia, Egypt and China. Madagascar also maintains good relations with the United States. Good foreign relations certainly helped Madagascar receive recent aid packages.
India has had maritime links with Madagascar for several centuries. India opened a Consulate General in Antananarivo in 1954. Upon Madagascar gaining independence in 1960, it was upgraded to an Embassy. There are about 20,000 persons of Indian origin in Madagascar, including approximately 2,500 Indian passport holders.
China and Madagascar established diplomatic relations on Nov. 6, 1972.
During the 2009 Malagasy political crisis, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia is "concerned by the increased frequency of attempts on the African continent to resort to non-constitutional methods of solving internal political problems." He went on to say that, in addition to increasing economic and social problems, the use of force is of concern and runs counter to democratic principles, whilst affirming Russia's support of the African Union's position.
Relations between the United States and Madagascar date to the middle 19th century. The two countries concluded a commercial convention in 1867 and a treaty of peace, friendship, and commerce in 1881. Traditionally warm relations suffered considerably during the 1970s, when Madagascar expelled the U.S. ambassador, closed a NASA tracking station, allied with the USSR, and nationalized two U.S. oil companies. In 1980, relations at the ambassadorial level were restored.
Throughout the troubled period, commercial and cultural relations remained active. In 1990, Madagascar was designated as a priority aid recipient, and assistance increased from $15 million in 1989 to $40 million in 1993. Recent U.S. assistance has contributed to a population census and family planning programs; conservation of Madagascar's remarkable biodiversity, private sector development, agriculture, democracy and governance initiatives; and media training. Madagascar became the first country with a Millennium Challenge Account compact when it signed an agreement worth $110 million in April 2006. The Ravalomanana government is especially positive about ties with the United States.
The World Bank had a $600 million commitment to Madagascar through 21 active International Development Association projects.
On June 23, 2000 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $41 million disbursement of its new three-year $141 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility. This money is intended to secure Malagasy credit, and to cover additional financing gaps caused by recent natural disasters.
In 2003, the World Bank released more than $100 million in poverty reduction aid in response to Madagascar's efforts to stop corruption. Then, in October 2004, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said they would write off $2 billion in debt—almost half Madagascar's total debt.
In March 2005, Madagascar was the first beneficiary of development aid offered by the United States in a plan aimed at rewarding countries determined by Washington to be putting forth market reforms and advocating democracy.
Further debt relief constituted another infusion of favorable developments for Madagascar when on June 11, 2005, at a pre-G8 summit meeting in London, world leaders agreed to write off $40 billion in debt owed by the world's poorest countries. Under the plan, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Fund would write off 100 percent of the money owed to them by 18 countries
Madagascar and International Aid for the Environment
Since the mid-1980s, the donor community, led by the World Bank and the USAID, has recognized that Madagascar is one of the world's most unusual natural wonders. As such, it has committed a tremendous investment into Malagasy conservation efforts. At $18 million per annum the environment program of USAID/Madagascar is the second largest American program in Madagascar, and one of the largest programs of its kind in the world. The World Bank further supported this environmental effort with an additional $180 million. Other bilateral donors including France, Germany and others have funded specific project initiatives in coordination with the World Bank and the USAID.
Eighty percent of the flora and fauna are endemic. The problem recognized by the international community is that this unique and valuable land has proven fragile. The bulk of the rainforests have already been destroyed causing significant erosion and a threat to water sources in arid areas. The international community has recognized this environmental catastrophe in progress and has responded in force by supporting and guiding the Malagasy government in its conservation program. Research has demonstrated that tavy, a form of slash and burns agriculture, has been the largest contributor to environmental degradation in Madagascar. As a result, the 1990s have seen both a prohibition on tavy in many places and an acceleration in the creation of national parks and protected areas that are off limits to agriculture. The goal has been to establish more than 50 such parks and protected areas in a 15-year period.
Even while Madagascar's conservation crisis remains high, its economic crisis remains still higher. With a population that is more than 80 percent agrarian, limiting resource through the creation of parks and farming restrictions is economically devastating to a significant percentage of the rural population. The need for economic development is thus exacerbated by the rapid growth of environmental policies and institutions.
The USAID and the World Bank worked together with the Malagasy government in the late 1980s to try to find a way to reconcile these two difficult and seemingly mutually-exacerbating problems. The result of these discussions was the creation of the Malagasy Office of the Environment and the signing of a National Environmental Action Plan.
The National Environmental Action Plan is intended to be implemented in three phases. The first phase of Madagascar's Environment Plan (EP1, 1990–1996) was marked by the creation of Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDP). These ICDPs were intended to offer farmers economic alternatives ecologically unsound environmental practices. This phase also focused on establishing an institutional environment. The USAID funded the creation of the ANGAP (National Association for the Management of Protected Areas - the national park service), employing consultants to model an institutional structure based upon a modified version of the South African and American national parks and protected areas systems.
The second phase (1997–2002) focuses on the implementation of a larger "landscape approach" to conservation and development, and the transference of conservation and development project ownership from international non-government organizations to the Malagasy national parks association (ANGAP). The focus of the third phase (2003–2008) is not yet clarified, but will require the completion of the indigenization process and the withdrawal of foreign economic support.
Early evaluations of the donor programs have criticized the integrated conservation and development approach for paying no more than lip service to development. Biological conservation has been prioritized at the cost of local livelihoods. Further, the development initiatives that have been implemented are not well integrated. Most local recipients of development aid do not connect the aid to the agricultural and land restrictions. Local animosity towards these programs is thus commonly high.
- Embassy of the Russian Federation in Antananarivo
- Embassy of Madagascar in Moscow
- "Transcript of Remarks and Response to Media Questions by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov at Joint Press Conference Following Talks with Ojo Maduekwe, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Moscow, March 17, 2009" (Press release). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. 17 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-18.