At the World Affairs Council
Los Angeles, California, US
5 June 2000
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It really is a privilege for Rania and I, and for my entire delegation, to be here with you today, and to address this impressive gathering, of the World Affairs Council, in Los Angeles. I am grateful for this opportunity, of exchange and interaction, and especially thankful, for your advice, and for your support.
At a time when the world is changing, in a direction that is still unfolding, and at a pace that defies convention, this institution, with its rich talent and grand reputation, will continue to be a pillar in the study and practice of international affairs. Your role in providing advice for policy-makers has in fact become all the more important. In a world that is overtaken by rapid transition, and consumed by deep transformation, your contribution to the mastering of the art of human relations, is even more essential. It is a necessity that was underlined only a few days ago, here in California, by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In her commencement speech to the graduating class of 2000, at Berkeley, Mrs. Albright eloquently pondered about when we would rise above the national, racial, and gender distinctions that divide us, to embrace the common humanity that binds us. The answer depends on the choices that we all make, she said. Her words echo in the ears of responsible leaders who assume the duty of public service with a conviction and a belief in the need to make a positive and real difference in the lives of their peoples.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nowhere else is there a need to emphasise the commonality of human values among different peoples than in the Middle East. With the conflicting parties, finally facing each other, to address issues related to borders, sovereignty, security, and peace, our region is heralding a new, and markedly different era. In that, it is following a global trend that advocates overcoming the ravages of war to build the pillars of peace. It is finally heeding the call of ordinary men and women in the Middle East, both Arab and Israeli, to find solutions to complex issues that divide, and adopt simple human virtues that unite. We all now realise that we shoulder a great responsibility, towards our people, and towards humanity. It is an obligation, to develop a new code of conduct that would secure the right of all to live in peace, to belong to stable homelands, and to be free of the burden of military occupations and the threat of violence. It would suitably turn the cradle of civilisations into a modern centre of excellence and achievement. It would harness the available rich talent in the region, with its enterprise, initiative, and creativity into a success venture, of growth and prosperity for all.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As it ushers in a new chapter in the history of the Middle East, this third millennium will necessitate the adoption of a new mode of regional co-operation. The new framework would build upon the peaceful resolution of the political and communal conflicts. It would emphasise the need for trans-national co-ordination in security matters, joint development of valuable resources, and the free movement of goods and services across boundaries. Such co-operation, will necessarily address the existing disparities between states in the region, and will encourage a comprehensive approach to development. It will seek to optimise the use of available resources, and lay the foundation, for implementing projects. Water desalination and conveyance, energy exploration and distribution, and environmental protection are by necessity regional in nature. The adoption of this new framework would allow for their implementation. The viability of this model is a necessary condition for the region's effective participation in the global economy. We can no longer afford to be mere spectators of a rapidly moving international economy. Our contribution can no longer be limited to present levels of output of isolated islands of production. The Middle East has the potential to be an example of regional development. It can establish a new pattern, where cooperation among states, and more importantly, among peoples, can guarantee a more effective role in the shaping the world economy. Its available human talents, its natural resources, and its capital assets, can be much more productively harnessed. Our region can contribute to the growth, of added-value sectors of excellence, in telecommunications, software, data systems and media. More immediately perhaps, it can offer the peoples of the Middle East the opportunity to live, work, and prosper, in their own countries, where they can contribute to the development of the region.
The model that is being proposed is similar to many other examples around the world. In Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia, regional co-operation, and free trade areas, allowed for private enterprise to invest, prosper, and sustain the growth of national and regional economies. The political will for co-operation, in all these cases, is strong and irreversible. Equally important, was the establishment of a mechanism, to implement the concept, and to realise the vision of partnership. At the beginning of this new century, we in the Middle East, are still in need of an explicit, and clear political decision, to pursue this path of collaboration. As the circle of peace widens, to become comprehensive, and more inclusive, we must venture, and collectively agree, on the importance of its priority. The peoples of the Middle East deserve to belong to a modern and prosperous world. The leaders of the Middle East, must respond to such aspirations. You, Ladies and Gentlemen, can contribute, to the establishment of the needed mechanism, to implement this concept, of partnership for peace. Many initiatives, emanating from the Madrid peace process, attempted to fulfil this task. Still, none of these sincere and institutional efforts has resulted in a viable mechanism for implementation. It is time now to remember the priorities, as defined by the peoples of the Middle East. It is the time to embark upon a path of achievement and success, of harmony and prosperity.
The world watches the United States and gets a glimpse of things to come. In the United States, people watch what is happening in California, and they predict the model of the future. This state has set an example in dealing with natural resources, and even natural catastrophes. It has pioneered the development of technology, and led the growth in the American economy. It offers many lessons, in productivity and reward. We, in Jordan, are closely watching. We are a small country, but with big ideas. We are providing a model, for our region, where political stability, democratic principles, and the rule of law, are offering Jordanians, the opportunity to excel, to contribute to the development of their country, and to be assets for their region. Our domestic reform effort is designed to be a catalyst, for building a new Middle East, where social and economic development, would replace political struggles, and where peace and coexistence, would usher in a new reality of cooperation and fulfilment. We have made considerable progress, in liberalising our economic structure, and in allowing the private sector, to be a full participant in it. Our export orientation has been enhanced with our admission to the World Trade Organisation last year, and with the conclusion of free trade area agreements with a number of Arab countries, with the European Union and, hopefully soon, with the United States. Most importantly, we have made the choice, to continue investing in the development of our real assets, our human resources. We have made it a priority, to secure the necessary means, for elevating educational and training standards. This is the real advantage that will launch information technology in Jordan. It is the engine of growth, of tourism and services, and most importantly, it is the talent, that will provide the building blocs for the new Middle East.
I thank you for your presence, and for your attention, and I hope that we can, together, find the ways to co-operate, on how to promote a new set of relations in our region. There is a need for a new reality, where the prosperity, and well being of people, are the central quest of our efforts. Too much time, and certainly too many resources, have been wasted on war and conflict. Let us devote our efforts now, to build peace and stability. Let us work together, for the dawning of a new era, in the Holy Land. Let it be the sunrise of the new millennium.
Thank you very much.