President J. A. Kufuor has stressed the need for a new partnership between Africa and the European countries based on mutual respect and benefit.
He said any relationship that rendered Africans as beggars would not augur well for a globalised world in which the focus was on partnership rather than master-servant relations.
President Kufuor was sharing his thoughts with members of the Joint Parliamentary Delegation from the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)-European Union (EU) Assembly who called on him at the Castle, Osu, on Saturday.
The delegation is on a fact-finding mission to West Africa with special interest in Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal.
The delegation asked the President for his thoughts on the economic partnership agreement in the light of the New Partnership for Africa's Development( NEPAD) and Ghana's own experience, as well as moves to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
President Kufuor said the relationship between Africa and Europe and other developed countries should be an honourable one underpinned by the common humanity and in which the partners should become one another's keeper.
The President said although Africa was handicapped and confronted with a number of challenges, the continent was endowed with rich human and material resources which could be harnessed and channelled into productive ventures to create wealth.
He was of the view that any relationship short of parity and mutual respect could be likened to a boxing match between a lightweight and a heavyweight in which the weaker boxer had been sent to the ring to be killed by the stronger person.
He contended that because the boxers were of different divisions, any match between them could be described as a complete mockery.
President Kufuor said the focus of NEPAD was that any partnership should be based on mutual respect and benefit and asked developed countries to help Africa to develop so that there could be parity in the relationship.
“Africa has been described as a scar on the conscience of the world,” he said, submitting that colonialism was a psychological factor which had contributed to eroding the confidence and capacity of the continent to overcome its challenges.
On leadership, the President said the question of leadership should not be restricted to only the Executive arm of government but should be extended to cover Parliament, Judiciary and other institutions of government.
He said the government was securing a $25-million loan for Parliament to ensure that Parliamentarians could have access to offices. Additionally, the government was pursuing measures to strengthen institutions such as the Judiciary and the Narcotics Control Board.
On Ghana's role in ECOWAS and peacekeeping, President Kufuor said Ghana had become a beacon in the West African sub-region because the country was engaged in vigorous development on all fronts.
That effort, he said, included promoting gender parity and empowerment, peacekeeping in the sub-region and beyond, health for all through the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme and human resource development through education reforms.
A Co-President of the ACP/EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Ms Glenys Kinnock, congratulated President Kufuor on his election as the African Union Chairman and said it was an expression of the confidence in his leadership to deal with the vision and problems of the AU.
She praised the President and the government for the programmes being initiated to enhance development in the country and said the country was so far on the track of achieving some of the targets of the MDGs.
Story By Nehemia Owusu Achiaw