Ouagadougou Is Annoyed, Too 'We Were Shocked'

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück has outraged more than just his European neighbors in the past week -- he also angered Africans by comparing Burkina Faso to tax havens like Switzerland and Luxembourg. Now, Burkina Faso's ambassador to Germany, Xavier Niodogo, says he'd like to invite Steinbrück for a visit to Ouagadougou.

SPIEGEL: German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück cited Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in the same breath  as Luxembourg and Switzerland. You have criticized the statement. Is there a diplomatic crisis between Germany and Burkina Faso?

Xavier Niodogo: We were very surprised and also shocked that our country was compared to alleged tax havens. Burkina Faso has nothing to do with that. We have very clear tax rules and our banking system is strictly monitored. In this regard, we are considered a model internationally.

SPIEGEL: What have you done?

Niodogo: My government has sent an official protest note to the German Foreign Ministry, in which we demanded an explanation for the comparison.

SPIEGEL: Has there been a reaction from the German side?

Niodogo: I have had personal talks with senior representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Finance Ministry. I was given assurances that Minister Steinbrück regrets that his statements caused confusion. They said he was misunderstood and that it was not his intention to declare Burkina Faso a tax haven.

SPIEGEL: Do you consider that an apology?

Niodogo: It is certainly important that it is also being publicly stated that the statement could be misunderstood and that Burkina Faso is not a tax haven. In addition, I would also like to invite Mr. Steinbrück to visit Ouagadougou. There, he could see for himself how wonderful our country is.

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