British policy on Africa
NAI guest researcher Olga Kulkova is an expert on Great Britain’s Africa policy during the leadership of Tony Blair.
– The British engagement in Africa increased with Blair as prime minister. The G8-summit in Gleneagles on debt cancellation to African countries, Commission for Africa and its report, Africa Conflict Prevention Pool activities, the military intervention in Sierra Leone and other initiatives gave Blair worldwide credit, says Olga Kulkova.
He was also the first British leader to seek political relations with African countries outside of sphere of former colonies, as in the case of Rwanda. But the diplomatic conflict with Zimbabwe was never solved.
– It was not only due to Mugabe’s faults but also due to the British refusal to help further finance the land reform in Zimbabwe which was their commitment under the Lancaster House agreement, says Olga Kulkova.
She believes that Blair had a personal interest in Africa. An interest that lives on with the Blair Africa Governance Initiative which is aimed at helping African leaders implement their reformist programmes. After Blair’s days as prime minister the policy on Africa has changed.
– The financial crisis, uprising BRICs and the Arab spring are factors behind the change, says Olga Kulkova.