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Official website of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
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Speeches
Speech of His Majesty King Abdullah II
On the Occasion of the 20th Anniversary of CNN
Atlanta, Georgia, US
2 June 2000

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of Rania and myself, I would like to express, how delighted we are to be with you today. We are grateful for the opportunity to be able to share with you, members of the CNN family, this moment of celebration, and historic significance. For each one of you, CNN has made quite a difference in your personal and professional lives. Undoubtedly, you have also contributed to the excellence that this network has attained. As for us, loyal international viewers since 1980, who have come to rely on you for our upØŸtoØŸdate, accurate, and inØŸdepth news, CNN has also changed our lives, and made you all, an important and vital part of our world.

With the benefit of hindsight, we now know, that pioneering the effort to turn the world into a global village, through the flow of news and information, was indeed, a sign of things to come. It was a remarkable entrepreneurial genius, that preceded the Internet, and paved the way for the digital information revolution, which we are witnessing today. For this, and for all the other good deeds that he has done for our world, allow me to pay tribute to Ted Turner, whose vision, and courage, are truly, the real assets of your organisation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Most of you file daily reports on world events, from different parts of the globe. Many of you risk your lives in the search for truth, as we were all sadly reminded, with the sad loss of Kurt Schork, and Miguel Gil Moreno, in Sierra Leone, where over 1000 Jordanian troops are also risking their lives for peace. Your stories deal primarily with politics, economics, culture and religion. They vary, and they cover different aspects of our world. Yet, they all share one singular element, namely, the human dimension, which deals with the life of people, its quality, meaning, and significance. Wars are fought to defend its integrity, and peace is made to guarantee the improvement of its quality. Culture is enriched to make it more meaningful, and religion is adopted to guide its course, and to place it in the right perspective. Protecting life, safe-guarding its physical elements, and ensuring that it will be better for us, and for those who will follow us, are values that are at the centre of your noble mission. In fact, they also form the fundamentals of responsive, and accountable leadership, that cares for people, and places their livelihood, and their needs, at the top of its national, and international priority.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The legacy that I inherited from my late father, His Majesty King Hussein, and my grandfathers, is one that has always upheld the integrity of human life. It has consistently called for respecting the rights, and the freedom, of the individual. It is the Hashemite tradition that derives its solid roots from the Islamic religion, culture and way of life. It is this heritage that has transformed us into a viable polity, offering a model for coexistence, cooperation, and tolerance. It is the modern Jordan that is built on tradition, yet embraces reform, progress and excellence, as its path towards the future. We are part of a region, where recent history witnessed wars, protracted conflicts, and sustained instability. The unfolding tragedy of the Middle East in the last century cast its shadows on our development, both political and economic, and rendered the survival of the state, and even that of the individual, as the single most important objective that needed to be secured. Indeed, this predicament changed our geography, demography, and economy, and turned the attainment of sustainable development, prosperity, and progress, into distant dreams that could not be realised. With true vision, leadership, and courage, King Hussein navigated these stormy waters, and overcame the most difficult of times. His commitment and determination were fuelled by his faith in the Jordanian people, who were ready to sacrifice, for the country and for its future. He left to us a proud country of resourceful people, a viable democracy cemented with solid institutions, and most importantly, a dream to see the dove of peace come back with the eternal olive branch. It is now left to us to continue the mission, and to carry the torch of the Hashemites, into the twenty-first century. It has now become our turn, to continue caring for peoples' lives, and for their livelihoods, and to cherish the legacy, in a new world full of change and challenge.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Global interdependence, coupled with the rapid transformation of the world economy, have led to widening the divide, between the North and the South. It has enhanced the importance, and priority, of social, and economic development, within states and regions, and has defined the national interests, of countries all around. It is within this context, that we in Jordan had to review our progress, and assess our experience. In line with our history and tradition, we defined our major national interest, in terms of safeguarding the well-being of the Jordanian citizen. Most of all, it calls for securing the right of all Jordanians, to be effective members in a modern civil society, that protects political freedom, and offers economic opportunity, and social development. It relies on the successful completion of a process of change that would improve the quality of the life of Jordanians. The reform program that addresses itself to the political process, the economic structure, social productivity, and the judicial system is one that is built on the success achieved in the past and the challenging requirements of the future. We are aware that economic development cannot be sustained in the absence of an environment that respects the freedom of speech and expression. We know that transparent laws designed to incorporate a national economy into globality must be enacted by representative parliaments, and should be enforced by accountable governments. We also believe that the moral authority of nations is measured, in terms of its respect for the rule of law, and its desire to achieve social justice. These are the convictions that guide our reform process. They are the legacy of an inherited tradition, and the fundamentals of a dynamic modern system. They are the response to an international reality that is increasingly adopting a common code of ethics. More potently perhaps, they represent the seeds for change in the Middle East, where Jordan has become a model, in its respect of the right of the individual to live, to belong, to participate and to excel. As our region slowly gets rid of the lingering conflicts and the remaining military occupations, we must expedite the process of building a peace, that is lasting and sustainable. With the election of a new government in Israel last year, a rare second window of opportunity has been opened. As you know, these are quite rare indeed. And third windows are unheard of. We cannot allow the process to fail this time. It is time for Arabs and Israelis to reach out and cast away their fortress mentalities. Let us take risks for peace. It is really worth it, and our people deserve it. Let us open the gates for a new era, where integrity, fulfilment, and prosperity, are no longer dreams. Let us ensure that democracy, transparency, and freedom become the norms, and let us shed the attire of war, of siege and of censorship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The story that is unfolding in Jordan is one of success. It captures the end of a sad chapter in the history of the Middle East, and turns a new page in the life of a young nation, intent on making a difference. It is a small country but with big ideas, that will, in due course, make it an oasis of freedom, a centre of excellence, and a model of peace and harmony. Investments in media and broadcasting, in information technology, and in manufacturing joint ventures, testify to the consistency of our laws, to the private-sector-orientation of our policies, and to the viability of our regional cooperation model. Our human resources are the potent value that will carry us into the future. Education, and skilled training, will spearhead the competitive sectors of our economy, to growth and development. Cementing democracy and pluralistic ideals, in a lawful environment that safeguards our national interest, continues to be the pillar of our strategy. It will be complemented by the replacement of public ownership of institutions, including the press, with private investments, that seek excellence, and that thrive in competition. This is how we can then contribute to a new regional framework, of cooperation and integration, and most importantly, of acceptance of each other, as neighbours, and partners in peace and prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the Jordan that I am determined to build: A Jordan with equal opportunities for all, and with special privileges for none. Its real assets are its people, whose patience and resourcefulness, made it survive the turbulence of the past, and whose initiative and commitment, will see it through the process of change. It is the human dimension that distinguished Jordan from others in the past. It will continue to provide the real engine for growth, excellence, and distinction that we aspire to achieve. We are determined to make our own future, and are well on the way. We are well on the path of success.

Thank you very much.