To Ali Abul Ragheb
(Translated from Arabic)
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate ,
Your Excellency Ali Abul Ragheb,
May God bless you,
It gives me pleasure to send you an Arab Hashemite greeting filled with respect and appreciation. I have known you for years as a dear brother. I have always regarded you as an exemplary Jordanian citizen, loyal to his country and the Arab nation and eager to shoulder responsibility with dignity, faithfulness, integrity, courage, and selflessness. In addition to these praiseworthy traits, you have also demonstrated that you are educated, knowledgeable and competent, and you have demonstrated excellence in all areas of responsibly which you have undertaken.
Stemming from my deep conviction, it gives me great pleasure to entrust you with forming and chairing a new government to succeed the government of His Excellency Abdul Raouf Rawabdeh. The government of Abdul Raouf Rawabdeh has faithfully fulfilled its duties, faced several national and economic problems and lived up to its responsibilities wholeheartedly and with dedication. We will always appreciate its accomplishments and hold them in high regard, considering the circumstances that prevailed over the past year.
Now that I have entrusted you with this responsibility, I look forward to the formation of a new government of political and economic figures who are well-known for their competence, uprightness, faithfulness, and ability to take on responsibility and perform their duty in the face of the circumstances facing our country, the Arab nation, and the rest of the world. This stage is characterised by globalisation and numerous accelerating changes. They present an obvious challenge to all of us as individuals and institutions. We must always be ready and able to deal with developments and keep abreast of global, without surrendering our values, culture and national principles. We need to take into account that Jordan has always been the heir of the Great Arab Revolt, which upheld noble principles – justice, equality, tolerance, and protection of man's dignity.
Therefore, I am placing before you and the colleagues whom you will choose to shoulder the responsibility alongside you the basic principles and the mission which I hope the government will accomplish and be committed to:
The first and most noble goal is the preservation of national unity. Only a united internal front where a spirit of love and teamwork prevails can protect Jordan, hold it together, strengthen it, develop it, and protect its security and stability. It is important that we work to achieve equality among all citizens in rights and duties, with unequivocal justice and crystal-clear transparency. Through this, we uphold the constitutional principle that all Jordanians are equal in duties and rights. We must make competence and ability the only criteria for assigning public office and positions of leadership in the state. We must work together to lay the foundation for a code of honour that puts an end to all forms of favouritism, nepotism, and cronyism, and work to implant that in the heart of every citizen.
These negative practices shame everyone who believes in them or practices them, and any special treatment or privileges among the members of the same society should be eliminated. Pluralism is a characteristic of Jordanian society and should be a source of strength for our country that enriches it. It is impermissible for any party, for any reason whatsoever, to exploit this characteristic to curtail citizenship rights and obligations. All citizens, without exception, should be committed to Jordan and to its national security.
Democracy is a way of life that we have accepted, and we will not swerve from this course, regardless of the difficulties and the challenges. We believe that democracy is a firm and solid platform for building a lofty and strong Jordan with the combined strength of its people and capabilities. To safeguard our democratic march and open new vistas before it so that it can prosper and develop, we must exercise democracy with a high sense of responsibility and deep understanding of the concept of freedom. Freedom never means attacking others' freedoms, whether they are individuals or groups. There is no unbridled freedom without legal, moral and behavioural controls that are grounded in the values of society, heritage and culture. In short, the democracy we speak about is the democracy that stems from the Constitution.
Responsible freedom is the one that abides by the law, and respects the values and culture of this society. Differences in opinion and interpretations are legitimate. They are necessary requirements so long as they do not violate the Constitution, lead to sedition, and tear at the fabric of national unity, destabilise security, harm the homeland's reputation and image, and negatively impact its economic situation by sowing confusion. From this premise, we welcome national opposition and understand its role in enriching our national progress with experiences and viewpoints that will help advance the homeland and map out its bright future, God willing. I would like to point out here the need to stop obstructing and resisting foreign investments with obsolete slogans.
Democracy remains incomplete unless supported by political pluralism. For this reason, we support the formation of national political parties and people's membership in these parties, so long as they are guided by the Constitution and abide by the laws enacted in accordance with the Constitution. We call on all citizens to participate in national political development by participating in legislative elections. I would like to emphasise what I said in my speech on the anniversary of my accession to the throne. I said that the simplest reflection of patriotism is for each of us to exercise his right to elect whomever he believes represents him or is qualified to help achieve our national aspirations. In this respect, I anticipate the formulation of a modern elections law that gives everyone the opportunity to compete freely and fairly to represent the various political and cultural colours of society. I also expect preparations to be made for the next legislative elections that will remedy the organisational and procedural loopholes of the previous elections.
The legislative branch receives our attention, respect and appreciation, and the government's cooperation with it should be on top of its priorities. We also hope that cooperation will take place between the executive and the legislative branches in all fields, including the endorsement of draft laws on economic and investment issues that are beneficial to the homeland and the citizens. In this respect, we call for resisting the fear of change and emphasise the importance of openness because [we] benefit from the experience of others and from what is going on in the world around us.
As for the Jordanian judiciary, it is a source of constant pride. We are eager to protect its independence and to promote its efficiency and ability to expedite judicial procedures and establish justice among people. This requires attention to the conditions of judges so that they are enabled to improve their knowledge through scholarship, training and participation in specialised seminars and conferences [concerning] modern economic developments and legislation. We also underline the importance of securing means of material satisfaction and an honourable living for all those working in this important sector so that they are able to carry out their respectable duties as best as they can and to safeguard the rights and property of people and enhance justice, because justice is the basis of governance. One should not be concerned in a society and a state which have honest judiciary and trusted and fair judges.
As for the educational and cultural sectors, there should be constant work to improve the conditions of teachers and to reward talented individuals in various scientific, intellectual, and technical fields. We should also work to supply the educational system with distinguished, efficient and experienced personnel who are open to the world through the use of modern technologies in education and provide students and schools with their requirements to realise this objective. This should take place in a manner that enables both the teacher and the student to deal with modern technology and use it to the best effect. This requires paying attention to higher education and scientific research and improving the standard of education in all stages. It also requires working out clear, accurate and scientific yardsticks for all university specialisations so that a graduate from any Jordanian university will be distinguished in his knowledge, efficiency and contribution. To help the government perform its duty in this field, we recommend restructuring the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research so that it will closely supervise the public and private higher education establishments and improve their standards so that they become models of higher education and so that our educational plans and programmes will meet the needs of society and aspirations for development and change.
As for the media sector, we believe that the media's message should be based on the principles of freedom, national responsibility, respect for reality, and credibility, which enable it to compete. Our media apparatuses therefore should be supported with efficient personnel and modern and advanced equipment so that the media can courageously demonstrate the spirit of the homeland, its progress and great achievements. The official media should not be affiliated with any individual or government but should be the media of a state and a homeland, which have well-known constants and whose objectives are noble and sublime.
The press is the mirror that reflects the image of the nation. It must be given freedom to develop and flourish in a climate of freedom of thought, opinion, expression, and respect for others' opinions. The press must be allowed to work to stimulate public opinion supporting the process of change and modernisation we seek. This process must be free of demagoguery, rumours and sensationalism. The press must not depart from the truth and objectivity. It must not intentionally or unintentionally tarnish the image and reputation of the homeland or negatively affect the national economy through press material that conveys to the world a distorted image about the true state of affairs in our country. I hope that the government will continue to privatise the media sector so as to boost its independence and emphasise the principle of equality and equal opportunity.
Our national economy must be freed from the shackles hindering its growth and prosperity. We must rely on ourselves and benefit from modern technology to develop national economic resources, rationalise the use of national wealth and resources, and strength all elements of the productive base. We must work to create capable management and enact transparent and integrated economic laws so as to serve the process of domestic and foreign investment.
In this regard, I call for continued cooperation between the public and private sectors, which was best manifested through the meetings and recommendations of the Economic Consultative Council. I hope that the government will continue to adopt these recommendations in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the national economic decision-making process in all areas of production and to remove any obstacles that might stand in its way. It is high time that the private sector played its role fully in the process of development, now that the markets of the world have been opened to it and Jordan has joined the World Trade Organisation and free trade agreements with a number of Arab and other friendly countries.
We must also start to set scientific specifications for national products so that they would be qualified for domestic and foreign competition. Private ownership must be respected and private initiatives and honourable competition must be encouraged. We must end illegitimate monopolies. The basis on which government representatives on company management boards are selected should be reconsidered. Qualification, specialisation, and integrity must be the bases for selecting those representatives. I stress the importance of bolstering government control over companies through the activation of the role of the Companies Comptroller in supervision, control, and intensive follow-up.
Agriculture is a basic pillar of our national economy and of our self-reliance as far as the basic needs of life are concerned. Therefore, agricultural establishments must be activated. Their roles must be integrated and methods developed. We must enhance the quality of agricultural research and guidance and improve the agricultural industry. We must provide the requirements of production and improve the methods of marketing agricultural products so that farmers are able to reap the fruits of their labour and so that their bond to their land would be strengthened. I would like to note here that it is essential that we verify the economic feasibility of some agricultural crops, especially those whose water consumption is not justified by their economic returns to the homeland and citizens.
Water is the core of life: "We made from water every living thing." Water is a strategic element upon which Jordan’s development depends. This points to the need to preserve water resources, develop them, and guarantee their proper management, as well as raise the efficiency of water storage and transport.
Moreover, it is necessary to implement the endorsed water strategy, which is based on a clear vision and an effective, applicable mechanism both in the long and short run. This issue the great importance it deserves. Efforts must be exerted to alleviate citizens' suffering in their search for water during certain seasons and to adequately fulfil their water needs.
Attention to and preservation of the environment is a national duty; it must receive its due care and attention. Therefore, we hope your government will be concerned to preserve the nature and climate God has granted us and take environmental elements into consideration when formulating development plans and projects.
Your government should take the initiative in setting down legal and administrative measures that enable us to preserve the environment to prepare for establishing an Environmental Affairs Ministry in the future.
Tourism has become an industry with its own scientific foundation that raises its importance and increases its effectiveness in the society and the state. This sector must receive extensive attention, so that this sector can become a major source of revenue for the state. The government must endeavour to develop means of marketing tourism abroad in order to encourage tourists and attract them to our country, which historians and archaeologists consider an open-air museum because of the unique archaeological and religious treasures of our land.
The government must also take prompt measures to preserve and maintain archaeological sites and unearth their buried parts. The government should rehabilitate some tourist sites, provide them with the necessary infrastructure, and conserve the environment in those areas without harming the rights of local citizens by using their property according to fair regulations. I would like to stress the importance of not abusing tourism for health purposes by certain individuals or bodies and the need to reach a mechanism to guarantee that this form of abuse does not happen.
With regard to social care, we stress the importance of the family as the main building block of society. I also stress the importance of paying attention to motherhood, childhood, and children's rights. I also affirm the importance of paying attention to the health and social conditions of school students in impoverished areas and of ascertaining the implementation of the Labour Law with regard to the employment and abuse of children in the marketplace.
It is important to protect the family from all forms of violence, and I underline the importance of women's right to education, instruction, training and work. It is also important to enable women to play their role in society as men's partners in developing the society.
Youth constitute two-thirds of the population and require care and assistance. This means setting up programmes and plans to rehabilitate and train them and to enable them to assume various responsibilities. Their creative abilities must be directed towards construction and progress. Job opportunities must be created for youth through the regulation of the labour market, making employment available to Jordanians and expanding vocational education and training. The homeland cannot but be built with the hands of its sons. Those who have special needs should be taken care of and assimilated within their societies, given that they are a productive part of and not a burden on society. It is very important to take the appropriate measures to enhance the concept of social solidarity and expand the umbrella of social benefits.
Our Arab Army has been and will continue to be a source of our pride. It is the homeland's impregnable shield, and the guarantor of its security, independence, and stability. Therefore, we must offer the military all forms of assistance, train it, and modernise its equipment so that it is able to protect the homeland and contribute to its development and resurgence. We also must maintain the high standards it has upheld over the past decades and its contribution to the safeguarding of security and peace in several areas of this world.
As for our security agencies, they are also a source of pride to us. We are eager to develop them so that they remain the watchful eye over the security of the homeland and its citizens and the strong arm of justice. We highly value the efforts of these agencies, their noble task, and their effective role in protecting citizens and their belongings. But we emphasise the importance of respecting citizens and preserving their dignity. We assert that these agencies must deal with the citizens on the basis that they are there to serve the citizens first and to protect their lives, belongings, and dignity before anything else. This is to further consolidate national affiliation, and establish a relationship between these agencies and their citizens on the basis of trust, cooperation, and mutual respect.
The state's administrative apparatus is in dire need of development and modernisation. It must be restructured in a manner that adheres to the nation’s aspirations for development and prosperity. Therefore, all forms of administrative excess, negligence, corruption, abuse of public posts, nepotism, cronyism and irrational decisions must be tackled and all those who tamper with the interests of the citizens must be severely punished. Capable and honest managers who give priority to public interest over personal interests must be chosen. Creative and loyal managers must be rewarded, and all those who fail to carry out their duties or exploit their positions in any way whatsoever must be called to account. I would like here to emphasise the need to enhance the prerogatives of the secretaries and directors general in state agencies to enable the secretaries general and administrative teams to process the citizens' formalities and offer them services free of red tape and other administrative complications.
As for our foreign policy, its is based on international legitimacy embodied in our respect for the UN Charter and provisions, namely those that deal with respect for the sovereignty of states, independence, and territorial integrity. Our Arab relations are primarily based on the provisions of the Constitution that stipulate that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an Arab country and that the Jordanian people are part of the Arab nation. From this premise, we stress our complete eagerness to give priority to our brotherly relations with our Arab neighbours on the basis of trust and mutual respect, a joint endeavour to enhance Arab solidarity, adherence to the Arab League Charter and the institutions of joint Arab action.
Jordan is committed to the peace process as a strategic choice, on which there is an Arab consensus. Jordan will work to support the Arab brothers on all the Arab tracks to regain their rights and to achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace to which all the people of the region aspire in accordance with international legitimacy.
As for our Palestinian brothers, we fully support them and the Palestinian National Authority in all Arab and international forums. We will continue to support them to enable them to restore their rights, decide their future, and establish their independent state on their national soil whose capital is Jerusalem.
As for Iraq, we emphasise our constant eagerness to preserve the unity of fraternal Iraq and its full sovereignty on all its land. We call on the international community to carry out its duty toward Iraq by lifting the unjust siege imposed on it and by putting ending the tribulations of this country and her dignified people.
As for work at the departments of the Foreign Ministry, I emphasise the importance of institutionalisation and that the foreign minister be the official spokesman for the Jordanian government as far as it concerns foreign policy.
Your Excellency the Prime Minister: Over the past years, some groups – praise be to God they are few – have rushed to criticise any government decision without consideration to the circumstances in which the decisions were made. They concentrate on and exaggerate flaws to mobilise public opinion against government. Some newspapers and political parlours have taken part in directing public opinion to demand changing governments without giving them adequate time before judging their policies as a whole and how far they have succeeded in implementing these policies. The first 100 days of any government have become the yardstick used by these groups to evaluate the performance of this or that government. This has greatly harmed the nation’s interests.
We want government stability so that an efficient official will feel that he will remain in office even if a government is changed. This will enable an official to benefit from accumulated expertise to serve his homeland and citizens.
The real yardstick for the success of any government is its ability to implement its agenda and the tasks assigned to it when it is formed. This cannot be realised without giving a government sufficient time to implement its programmes. Nor can it be realised when it is distracted by marginal battles that are not in the interest of the homeland or the citizen.
These groups have developed a habit of viewing the homeland and its achievements with suspicion. They have neglected and do not want to see the great achievements realised by the homeland. They have benefited from freedom of the press, without any sense of responsibility, to portray Jordan in a distorted, negative light. Another group, which assumed a position within the state and took part in decision-making, has developed the habit of sabotage. When the members of this group leave their posts for any reason, the homeland becomes, in their view, a ruin that cannot be put back together without their return to power.
I know that the government and its agencies cannot do their work unless we help them create the appropriate atmosphere of work, production, and creativity. The future is promising, praise be to God. The results of the economic reform have begun to be reflected in figures. Despite this, a period of time will pass. We should work to make it as short as possible, in order to make the citizen, who are an example of patience and endurance, feel the results of the reform.
During my several tours, I urged the world to support us so as to improve the living standards of citizens, particularly during my recent visit to the United States. The results were good to the extent that the world believes that we pursue a sound economic policy. It has expressed its readiness to support and help us, especially since it sees that we are determined to develop our country. The actions of the determined will always produce good results.
I have great confidence in you and in the faithful sons of the homeland whom you will choose and who are able to shoulder responsibility honourably and honestly. You are going to receive my full support, God willing. You will have enough time to realise these ambitions.
I pray to Almighty God to grant success to you and your colleagues and to guide all of us to the right path. I am waiting for you to provide me with the names of your fellow cabinet ministers.
Peace and God's blessings upon you,
Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
Amman, 19 June 2000