by Stefania Bianchi
(IPS) BRUSSELS -- Paul Wolfowitz, the controversial U.S. nominee to take over as World Bank president, said he will build a "multinational" senior management team if he becomes head of the development bank.
Speaking after an informal meeting with European officials in Brussels, Wolfowitz said it was "very important" that the senior management of the bank reflect the fact that it is a multilateral institution, but declined to make any promises.
"It needs to reflect the fact that the European countries as a group are the largest single donors to the Bank, but it also needs to reflect the full diversity of donors and recipients. I intend to look for the best talent from all around the world, and look forward to have a truly multinational senior staff," he told media representatives Wednesday.
But Wolfowitz refused to make any promises about who may become his deputy.
"There's great talent here in Europe. There are some impressive people in the developing world, and I'm going to need all the help I can get," he added.
The Luxembourg presidency of the European Union (EU) had indicated that Europe is hoping to secure one of the two vacant vice-presidential posts.
The EU wants to get a European as Wolfowitz's deputy. France has suggested Jean-Pierre Jouyet, head of the Paris Club of creditor nations. The executive board of the Bank has 24 directors, 11 of them Europeans, including seven from the EU.
President Bush announced Wolfowitz as the U.S. nominee to head the global lending institution for developing countries earlier this month.
U.S. nominations to the World Bank presidency are usually unchallenged, as are European nominations to lead the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But since the announcement of the nomination of Wolfowitz for the post, a Europe-wide campaign against his choice has been gaining momentum.
Wolfowitz is considered one of the Bush administration's most hawkish figures and was a leading advocate of the decision to attack Iraq.
However EU officials effectively gave the green light to Wolfowitz Wednesday by referring to him as the "incoming president" of the World Bank.
As well as meeting Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg Prime Minister and current head of the EU, Wolfowitz also met EU finance and development officials from the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany and Sweden.
Juncker said the meeting with Wolfowitz had been "constructive and friendly."
Wolfowitz was keen to reassure doubters that under his management the Bank's development agenda would remain paramount.
"I understand that I'm to put it mildly a controversial figure, but I hope as people get to know me that they will understand that I really do believe deeply in the mission of the bank," he told media representatives.
"It's important to emphasize too that President Bush believes deeply in the mission of the bank. He believes deeply in poverty reduction, he believes it is an effort to do it multilaterally. It's a...unifying mission, and frankly that's going to be fun," he added.
Highlighting the World Bank's "truly noble mission," Wolfowitz said he was eager to take on the challenge of leading the World Bank.
"People who don't know me may not appreciate why I am eager to take on the challenge of this job. I believe deeply in the work of the bank. Helping people to lift themselves out of poverty is a noble mission," he said.
"It is also a critical part of making the world a better place for all of us. It is not just the material side of life that improves; peace and freedom are also advanced when more people can enjoy the benefits of prosperity and human dignity."
The European Commission, the EU executive, said it was happy with what Wolfowitz had said.
A Commission spokesperson told media representatives Wednesday that Olli Rehn, EU Commissioner for enlargement, was "satisfied with everything he heard from Mr Wolfowitz concerning free trade and also on poverty reduction and development policy."
Development non-governmental organizations (NGOs) remain concerned about Wolfowitz's nomination and urged him to voice his views on development issues.
"Oxfam is concerned that Paul Wolfowitz has, in the past, heavily criticized international institutions and has no direct experience of development issues. For these reasons we are calling for a statement clarifying Mr Wolfowitz's position on these critical issues, and urge governments and their executive directors at the Bank to take up these issues, and the views of developing countries, when considering this nomination," Luis Morago, head of Oxfam's EU office, said Wednesday.
March 31, 2005 (http://www.albionmonitor.com) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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