Before the Cortes Generales
21 October 1999
Your Excellency the Speaker of the Senate,
Your Excellency the Speaker of the Congress of Deputies,
Senators and Deputies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with a deep sense of historic responsibility that I stand before you today addressing this august body, the honourable representatives of the great people of Spain.
I thank you most sincerely for the great privilege and honour of your invitation to address you at this critical and exciting time, and I hope I will be able to repay you the honour with friendship and honesty, which have always dictated the relationship between Spain and Jordan, two countries who have always shared many similar concerns and opinions, paramount amongst them our conviction for the need for peace, democracy and the respect for the dignity and freedom of individuals and their human rights.
As you all know, the beginning of this year has been a very difficult one for us in Jordan, one in which we lost not only a father to us all, but a man who was the creator of modern Jordan and the captain of its ship for nearly half a century. His Majesty's loss, however, has made us ever more resolved to continue his legacy, which, although varied and very rich, can be encapsulated in two words: peace and nation building.
I walked into His late Majesty's study a few years ago, while he was reading a book which I think was entitled "Choice," and he looked up at me and in his ever-present and reassuring voice, told me, "think of yourself as a man of history, not a man experiencing history." I did not really understand the message then, but I know what he meant now. And I am determined to fulfil his legacy and live by his advice.
A few days after that incident, on the 12th of October, 1991 - the same day it was announced that Jordan would be joining the Madrid Peace Conference - His Majesty spoke to the Jordanian people and said, "I am in the autumn of my life, after a journey that has lasted forty years since I became King, and lately I have been burdened with a big question: do I answer to the callings of my personal needs, or do I continue to serve my people?"
"I thought long and very hard about this, and studying the critical and very difficult position that the country is passing through, I saw that the pursuit of my personal needs is an escape from my responsibilities towards you. And thus, I have decided to continue carrying the burden of responsibility with all its hardships, praying to the Almighty to help us overcome it for the good of Jordan, the Arab world and Islam. All I desire is a clear conscience and to serve my nation in order for our future generations to live in peace and dignity. I want to work for peace and to protect it forever as a means of achieving what our people deserve."
It is with this sense of duty towards my people, my country, and the cause of peace, that I humbly stand before you today - you, the representatives of the dear and brotherly Spanish people with whom my country, my people and my family have the closest ties of friendship, respect and admiration - to assure you that I regard my position as the King of Jordan, a noble mission and a holy duty which was entrusted to me by the will of the Almighty God, the choice of my late father, and the love and support of the Jordanian people. I intend to do my utmost to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to devote my life, as my late father had done before me, to preserve and protect what Jordan has achieved, and to continue the process of nation building, peace building and the advancement of a civil society based on justice, freedom, democracy, human rights and pluralism.
To pursue this legacy, we in Jordan are continuing the process of democratisation and developing a proper system of checks and balances. We are taking steps to ensure that the democratisation process is not just a set of laws establishing the framework for political activity, but a process by which the culture of democracy becomes intertwined in our society through daily practice.
I told His Majesty [King Juan Carlos] yesterday, Jordan is working hard to preserve the success stories of the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty and to help in supporting all parties to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace.
In this regard, Spain's very important role must be mentioned. For not only was it Madrid, the city of hope, that hosted the beginning of the transformation of my part of the world from the scourge of war to the horizon of peace, but it was also the country that produced amongst its people true believers in peace around the world, that continued to move and prod the process along when all were beginning to lose sight of that horizon.
May I, on this occasion, mention the very important role of two of Spain's sons. Prime Minister Aznar, who only a few weeks ago was working relentlessly to bring the Syrian-Israeli position closer, in order for them to return to where the negotiations stopped in 1996. Also, His Excellency Mr. Miguel Moratinos [EU Middle East envoy], whose efforts to bring the parties closer over the last few years will be recorded with pride in the annals of history as yet another one of Spain's great achievements towards humanity.
As for the domestic economic aspect, we have taken major steps in continuing to create an even more friendly investment environment that will help us, with the support and assistance of our friends, to overcome the difficult social and economic hardships that my country is facing. The alleviation of our foreign debt is another way that our friends can offer assistance, so as to enable us to achieve the goals that we aspire to.
I hope and pray that with our strong commitment and determination, we can achieve this and then aspire to men of history.
His late Majesty also, during those very trying times in 1991, addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg and said, "throughout these years I feared no one but God, to whom I humbly pray, that if I do not live to see the day when I could experience the real pride and joy of addressing a Pan-Arab Parliament - modelled on this European Parliament - representing the peoples and governments of a similarly constructed Arab community, that before long it will be the privilege of another to experience such a proud moment. I shall continue my relentless endeavours to realise such a long-cherished dream for as long as I live."
I hope that one day, in the not too distant future, we will invite you to attend the opening of this Pan-Arab Parliament, which His Majesty hoped that he would see, and which I will continue to pursue. I mention this because of Spain's role in the EU community and its continuing efforts in opening more dialogue and building more bridges with the rest of the world - more bridges that not only bring intercultural and inter-trade relations between countries and continents, but also sound a reassuring message to all those believers in peace and stability, that Spain will not sit idly by and see the rights of people - regardless of where they live - taken away from them.
Secretary General Javier Solana's - yet another son of the great Spain - leadership of NATO during the Kosovo crisis is yet another shining example that the Spanish people abhor tyranny and destruction, and will not rest until the day comes where all the citizens of our planet are free from fear and able to look at their children and see a brighter future in a world that is open for the movement of free trade and ideas.
In closing, may I thank you, the noble representatives of the great Spain - our foremost supporters - for your kindness and understanding, and may I also take this opportunity to thank Prime Minister Aznar and his cabinet for their friendship and cooperation.