At the Moscow State Institute of International Relations
3 September 2004
It is hard to discuss global issues when such a crisis confronts us. But Rector, this university's commitment to peace and advancement can make a real contribution to the solutions we so desperately need. Your university is respected throughout the world for its high standards and its distinguished faculty and graduates. To be welcomed among you is indeed an honour. It is a special privilege to be here during this great institution's 60th anniversary.
Let me add, I do not come here alone. I'm here on behalf of all Jordanians. We feel tremendous regard for Russia and its people. No country has done what yours has done, to tackle tough problems and build a new future. What you have achieved is important, not just to your own people, but to global peace and hope. To me, this respected degree is a token of that partnership. And I thank you.
Distinguished Guests and Friends,
It is more than 15 years since change began sweeping this world. A spirit of reform, of new possibilities and achievements, promised much for our future. Yet deep crises still shadow our globe. The great evil of terrorism. Regional and ethnic conflict. Poverty and deprivation.
Never has it been more important for the friends of peace and progress to work together. To end regional conflict; to unite against terror; to heal economic and cultural divides.
No country understands this more than Russia. Neighbour to West, East and Middle East, your nation has a central role in our world – not just in geography, but in ideas and movements. It is a historic heart, not only of Orthodox Christianity, but of a thriving Muslim community. Today, 20 million Russian citizens are Muslim. Indeed, Russia was represented at last year's global Islamic Conference by no less than President Putin.
We have all seen how extremists are promoting their power agenda. They divide the world into hostile camps, and actively work to build new walls and mental partitions. But – as Russia has shown even at great times of challenge – positive change begins when walls come down, when minds open up, when we reach out to each other in mutual respect. In this regard, I applaud President Putin and so many of you, for rejecting Islamophobia. And I hope you will work with us to bridge this destructive divide anywhere it occurs around the world.
For our part, in the Islamic world, I can tell you that extremists will not silence the real Islam. Ours is a faith that honours tolerance and peace. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan well represents that great tradition of inclusiveness and vision. In our country, Orthodox and other Christians live as brothers – and sisters – to their Muslim neighbours. Together, we are all Jordanians and we will not be divided.
The values of my country and my faith are driving real, results-oriented reform across the Middle East. As Russia knows well, successful reform emerges from within. The Arab people will not accept measures that are imposed by outsiders, or policies that disregard our history and culture. How can it be otherwise? Only a home-grown process can generate the energy and commitment that success requires.
At the G-8 conference at Sea Island in June, President Putin expressed Russia's full understanding on this issue. The final G-8 statement strongly supported reform emanating from within the region. And it recognised the need to help reformist countries.
Here again, Russia supported Jordan's proposal for a serious funding commitment for a new Middle East recovery plan.
But, reform in the region cannot win the gold unless there is peace on the track. The Arab-Israeli conflict remains a huge barrier to stability and progress in my region, and the world.
For generations, Palestinian suffering has reaped frustration and anger. Global security, global peace, global morality demand that we give this generation a better harvest. My friends, I ask you to help us resolve this issue and help us resolve it soon.
The Arab world is committed to a balanced and lasting solution to the conflict. A free, sovereign, viable, democratic and contiguous Palestine. Real security for Israel to live in peace with its neighbours. A process that leads to a comprehensive settlement; addressing the Syrian and Lebanese tracks.
At Sea Island in June, the G-8 countries reaffirmed their commitment to these goals, as well as to a democratic, sovereign, and rebuilt Iraq. The international community must now deliver on those promises. Let us send a new message to young people – in Palestine, Israel, Iraq and elsewhere: “Global justice is real – the system can work.”
The goals I have been speaking about, peace and reform have been a central focus for Jordan. We are at peace with our neighbours. We have committed to a modern, tolerant, open society. To give the entire population a stake in the change process, we have moved steadily forward with institutional reforms: holding elections, reinforcing human rights and supporting transparent, accountable governance.
To empower our youth, we have invested strongly in education. The recent UNDP report ranked Jordan first in educational reforms in the Arab world.
In the economy, we are boosting growth by supporting innovation and enterprise. And our efforts are paying off. External debt has fallen; exports are up; the first half of this year saw real growth of 7.2 per cent.
Our first goal is to meet our people's expectations and needs. But we hope our path will also inspire others: This is what a home-grown Arab-Islamic model can accomplish. This is how we will achieve the peace and prosperity that the Arab people so urgently need and deserve.
Certainly, challenges lie ahead. But we are committed to the path. And let me say, we are encouraged by your country's example. Russia's courage is inspiring, and so is your success.
We who believe in the future of the Middle East are grateful to our Russian friends for their support. Your country's balanced approach to the region; its significant role in the Quartet peace process; its experience and support of reform: all these are contributing to positive change.
Jordan deeply values its own special ties with Russia. And I hope we will have an even closer partnership in the years ahead. There are exciting new possibilities for trade, tourism and other exchanges. Indeed, Jordan is a gateway to our entire region, especially the critical effort to rebuild Iraq. To the Russian business community; to your academy and experts; to your leaders, I say: Come to Jordan; work with us; be with us, as we help create tomorrow's Middle East.
For our two countries and our world, great opportunities lie ahead. A century when every person participates in global prosperity and growth. When young people are not threatened by terror and hatred, but have every opportunity to fulfil their potential. When families can live in peace. Together, I believe our partnership will succeed. Our world deserves no less.
Thank you very much.