Official website of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II
At the German Council on Foreign Relations
Berlin, Germany
23 October 2002

Distinguished Members, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for your kind welcome. I am very happy to be back in Berlin, and honoured to join you today.

I was last in this city a year ago. And as you know, it has been an eventful year – a year for facing truths and meeting challenges. We've begun a much-needed global dialogue, a dialogue about how we got where we are, and where we are going. We've pulled together an international coalition against terrorism. German troops are among those who have lost their lives restoring the freedom of Afghanistan.

Germany's leadership role has been called a "new dimension of responsibility." But when I think about the critical role Germany played throughout the Cold War, and when I consider the revolution of freedom that the German people helped bring about in this very city, I can't call this leadership new. And I hope that you take great pride in all you have done, and are doing, to make this a better world.

Well, the world is now on the brink of new challenges, and the need for global responsibility remains great. Today, I'd like to talk about this very briefly. And then if there is time, perhaps we could have some questions and answers.

This past year has shown us one thing very clearly: East, West, North, South: we share the fate of the 21st Century. No country, no region, can enjoy our era's opportunities – and they are vast – without also confronting its problems and dangers.

The urgent need for development – combating the evils of terrorism and extremist thinking, creating broader, deeper global access to technology and education, ending the occupation of Palestine – these and other serious challenges face us all. And it will take all our efforts in partnership to solve them.

To talk about this global partnership is not to minimise the role of individuals and nations. On the contrary, it makes it clear just how important it is, that we all take responsibility for the future we will share.

And here, let me say a word about Jordan. For more than half a century, my country's political stability and moderation have been a positive influence in our very critical region. Today, Jordan is providing a model of reform, democratisation and the rule of law, a model that offers our people an opportunity to excel, and a prototype, if you will, for a more stable and secure future in the Middle East as a whole.

The Jordan that I represent is young, socially diverse, and forward-looking. Despite meagre resources, and perhaps even because we face scarcity, we have charted the road of reform for our region. A young and talented population is our oil well; education, skill acquisition, and human development is our pipeline to the future.

Jordan's systemic reform process began more than twelve years ago. Three years ago, we began accelerating our work in response to a national consensus. Currently, Jordan is witnessing major change across all fields – political, economic, social, administrative, judicial, and educational. We are now preparing for our fourth Parliamentary elections since 1989.

The aim of these and other efforts is very clear: to address the hopes of the young for a brighter future, a future that secures the nation's productivity, prosperity, and freedom, in a civil society that protects democracy and cherishes pluralism.

The security and future of Jordan's people was my father's deepest commitment, and it is mine. In this, I am joined by the millions of Jordanians who are working to advance our nation. And we are determined to succeed.

But it is also true that our country's fate impacts more than our own people. The success of our example will be contagious, and so would be its failure. I believe that Europe has a particularly critical role, through its partnership with us, in promoting success.

It is not a coincidence that Jordan was the first Mashrek country to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union. That agreement came into force last May. Its objectives include a progressive liberalisation of trade in goods, services and capital development – all key engines of economic growth and opportunity. A central step is the creation, by 2010, of a Free Trade Area between Jordan and the European Union countries.

Let me say that we are grateful for the European Union's support during the period of transition. I am glad to report that we have already made considerable progress in liberalising our economic structures. We are working to create an economy in which the private sector is a full participant, trade is open and free, and private capital can flow. Our successful privatisation programmes have been held up for others to emulate. We are streamlining our public sector. And we are investing heavily in human-resource development, including upgrades in educational and training standards.

But our relationship with Europe transcends economic cooperation and financial assistance. Cultural, political, religious, social – these and many other links are the components of a solid strategic relationship – a partnership of mutual values and a shared destiny.

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that today, Europe has no more significant partner than the countries of the Southern Mediterranean. For this reason, it seems to me, we need a stronger approach to the European-Mediterranean Partnership – one that reflects the vital links between the two sides. I think this partnership needs to evolve, from a mere association, into a meaningful structure with a longer-term outlook.

Indeed, if Europe's southern neighbours are to succeed in new models of development, Europe must become more involved in the transformation process, especially in opening the doors to prosperity and hope for our youth.

Today, one half of the Arab World is under 18 years of age. Our young people, like yours, seek to be a part of the 21st Century. But all too many are alienated from what makes our era so promising. Too many perceive an unbridgeable divide between Western "haves" and worldwide have-nots. This division provides a breeding ground for conflict and hostility.

We need to send a clear message, by our actions, that we reject this divide. Above all, we must make sure that all our peoples know and understand our shared values and the hope and opportunities they bring. Democracy, freedom, respect for diversity, global cooperation – these are the building blocks for development and peace.

A core challenge to human development in our region is the ongoing conflict between Arabs and Israelis. Let me say it plainly: We will never see a truly stable, prosperous Middle East – and the economic and political security that this promises our neighbours – until the Palestinian-Israeli situation is solved. The challenge is to end the conflict now.

It is more than 35 years since the ceasefire lines in the 1967 war left Israel in possession of the West Bank, and thousands of innocent Palestinians without their freedom. Since then, decades of negotiations have written their sorry record across the history books. We have seen steps forward, even major achievements. Still we do not have peace. The situation dangerously elevates the frustration of people tired of war, occupation and economic deprivation.

This ugly wound holds back progress in the Middle East, and inflames extremism throughout the world. The time has come for genuine peace, a peace that resonates with both Palestinians and Israelis.

I believe that all committed people want to see new momentum. We have a strong vision for peace, articulated at the Arab Summit in Beirut. We have the Madrid Quartet – the United States, Europe, Russia, and the UN -- working together closely with regional players.

Now more than ever, the people on the ground need to see results: real security for Israel; secure, viable Palestinian independence; and a future of hope for all. Getting there requires that we focus sharply on the ultimate goals of the peace – and set a clear, reasonable timeframe for those goals to be met.

The international community will soon finalise a road map. It will include obligations, timelines and a monitoring mechanism to ensure that commitments made will be implemented in a timely manner. This is the only way in which a performance-driven plan, and a two-state solution in three years, can be reconciled.

But it is also up to the international community to ensure that the plan is implemented in good faith. We must not allow the process to become hostage to the whims of those who choose to obstruct peace. Today, we urgently need Europe to take a leadership role in a peace alliance, an alliance with the moral and political leadership to broker and enforce a comprehensive, fair and lasting deal. Only this can persuade weary people, on both sides, to trust the road to peace.


Jordan's foreign policy, in this and other matters, is based on a very straightforward principle: conflict resolution is best achieved through peaceful means. History shows action is most effective – and peace is longest lasting – when we work together in international partnership – and when we operate within the international legitimacy of the United Nations, of which we are all members.

Our future as well as our past makes Europe and the Middle East partners in peace and advancement. Now, Europe has a central role to play. Your history in breaking through the conflicts of centuries provides a model for those who are trapped in today's cycle of violence. You have the experience and infrastructure to bridge the divides, through dialogue and interaction.

I know that peace is possible. But it cannot be achieved unless all of us act, and act together. We need to make the promise real – not only for tomorrow's children, but for our own.

Thank you very much.