Syria may need Marshall Plan-type scheme to rebuild country, says Annan

Country will need massive investment and assistance when civil war ends, says former UN secretary general

Kofi Annan : “Rebuilding Syria and taming the region is in everyone’s interest.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Kofi Annan : “Rebuilding Syria and taming the region is in everyone’s interest.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Fri, Jun 7, 2013, 01:00

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said yesterday Syria might require a Marshall Plan-style aid package to rebuild the country whenever the civil war ends.

Speaking in Monte Carlo at the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, Mr Annan said the war was “tragic” for Syria.

“The money situation in Syria will be very, very grave when the war ends. In fact, the country is being systematically destroyed. One will need to pick up the pieces and rebuild. It is going to require massive, massive investment and international assistance almost along the lines of a Marshall Plan. ”

World War initiative
The Marshall Plan involved the US providing $13 billion (€9.8 billion) in financial assistance over four years to help rebuild western Europe in the wake of the second World War. It was an initiative devised by then secretary of state George Marshall.

Mr Annan said Syrians were “good business people” and with “stability and calm, they can pick up the pieces”.

“My fear is that if we don’t get a good handle on it and if the efforts being made by the Russians and the Americans now do not yield results, the situation will get much worse in the sense that you are going to allow the logic of war to decide what happens.

“If that is allowed to happen, whoever wins, you are going to have the revenge killings, ethnic cleansing of the other, and we will see many more atrocities. But I hope we can avoid that.”

Mr Annan was asked who might provide financial assistance to Syria given that most of the developed western economies are stressed financially.

“The kind of development [required] is going to take a decade or more to rebuild and help Syria.

“I hope some of the governments in the region, despite where they stand today on the war, will also realise that rebuilding Syria and taming the region is in everyone’s interest and that contributions will come from rich Gulf states and others in addition to what one would expect from the traditional donors.

“In the current atmosphere, if you were to ask western governments to put up money for the reconstruction of Syria, they would baulk. But they should have a long term view.”