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World Bank chief slams "superficial" anti-globalisation protests

by AFP Monday, Aug. 06, 2001 at 3:26 PM

"My worry is that the real issues of poverty, of AIDS, of corruption of the things that we're trying to fight, get pushed to a back burner and you see on the front page really the superficialities of the protests," Wolfensohn said.

Sunday August 5, 10:15 AM

World Bank chief slams "superficial" anti-globalisation protests







SYDNEY, Aug 5 (AFP) -

World Bank President James Wolfensohn hit back Sunday at critics of the global lender while condemning "superficial" anti-globalisation protests.

Australian-born Wolfensohn said issues discussed at recent economic summits in Genoa, Melbourne and Seattle, all of which were marred by violence, were far more important than the protests outside.

"I've just come from Genoa and really what was going on inside ... is far more important.

"My worry is that the real issues of poverty, of AIDS, of corruption of the things that we're trying to fight, get pushed to a back burner and you see on the front page really the superficialities of the protests," Wolfensohn said.

Wolfensohn said that many protestors among the tens of thousands who joined demonstrations at the G8 summit in Genoa last month and the World Economic Forum in Melbourne last September were interested solely in provoking violent clashes with police.

"I think many of them in the streets, particularly the most violent, don't have views about anything except destruction," Wolfensohn told the Australian Nine Network's Business Sunday program.

"They're people that are trying to get rid of anybody in authority."

The World Bank president said the concerns of moderates within the anti-globalisation movement were subsequently overshadowed.

"I think personally that it is very dangerous for the moderates at the moment, not just physically, but because a lot of things that they legitimately want to talk about get confused in the violence," he said.

As the agenda for major economic forums, and the need to balance the effects of globalisation with economic reforms, is undermined, the future of global trade reforms is jeopardised, the World Bank chief said.

"There is a danger that you'll lose the next round of world trade reform but not because of the streets," he said.

"It'll be lost because of the different understandings between rich and poor countries and the inability at this moment to establish the dialogue.

"The real problem is that in today's world we estimate that there are three billion people in countries that have benefitted from globalisation and probably a billion that have not benefitted ... people that have been adversely affected by different production, different concentrations of power."

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