At the Swedish Institute of International Affairs
8 October 2003
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you. It is an honour and pleasure to join you. I am grateful to the members of the institute for this opportunity to share some thoughts with you and to contribute to what I believe is a very important dialogue between our countries.
The Swedish model is evidence of the strong, positive impact that a determined people can have on world events. Your country is a global leader in promoting and protecting human rights. Sweden has played a major role in promoting peace and development, not only in Europe but around the world. Swedish business has won an international reputation for quality and innovation. And your leaders are honoured everywhere for their courage, integrity, and sacrifice. Over the decades, Sweden gave the world Count Folke Bernadotte, Dag Hammarskjold, Olof Palme, and Anna Lindh … and millions mourned with you their passing.
Your country has achieved its reputation despite the fact that it is not the largest country or the richest or the most populous. It achieved its standing, I believe, because of its moral energy and commitment to humanity - a deep commitment to recognising the equal dignity of all peoples … whether in one's neighbourhood or across the world.
Many years ago, the noted Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal said something interesting about this moral commitment. He was speaking about the need for developed countries to take action, to help end the deep division between rich and poor nations. But, Myrdal argued, such aid would never be sufficient if it were only given for reasons of national interest. Action had to have a moral dimension as well. Policymakers, as well as citizens, need to think in terms of “human solidarity and compassion.”
Today, people understand, more than ever before, how interlinked our world is. We still face deep global gaps … between rich and poor; free and unfree; on-line and off. Yet events have shown developed and developing nations alike, that we do not live in isolation. We share a common fate and future. In the 21st Century – for all nations – "national interest” itself has a moral dimension, because we cannot fully succeed unless we accept our common humanity.
It is because Sweden understands this reality that your country has become such a global powerhouse of ideas and impact. And your success has a special resonance in Jordan. We too are far from the largest or the richest or the most populous country in our region. But we believe that with determination, with energy, we can achieve our own impact, at a critical time.
Today, Jordan has committed itself to a path of development, progress, and peace. We have spoken out, boldly, in the name of tolerance and justice. We have taken risks for peace in our region and around the world. And we have embarked on an extensive programme of economic, political and social reform.
Jordan's basic goal is a society that empowers its people, and offers opportunity to all. That means an inclusive, democratic civil society, one that provides real hope and real solutions – political and economic stability, economic growth, and genuine social empowerment. We know this is not a one-step, simple path; it requires structural reforms throughout society. But that effort is underway, and it is accelerating. I believe we are creating a model process that can benefit the Arab world as a whole; a model that can be an effective path toward democracy and prosperity, for a region that is tired of dead-ends and despair.
The Jordan model reaches out to take advantage of global opportunities and partnerships. But I must point out to you that its roots are in our own society's strengths, values and history. Central to this heritage is Jordan's identity as an Islamic nation. This identity provides us with core, positive values – values like tolerance and acceptance of others; concern for the oppressed; respect for men and women alike. From Islam's earliest history, these are the values that enriched our culture, inspired scholarship and scientific advances and created a thriving, multi-ethnic civilisation. And, as we move into the future, these are the values that will create innovative, knowledge-rich, opportunity-enhancing societies.
I know that this is not the description of Islam you will hear from extremists, or from those who hate Islam. But they are wrong – as wrong as those who believe that the world's civilisations cannot meet and work together. Indeed, Sweden's own experience shows that a people can deeply love their own traditions and culture, while opening their minds and doors to others. Sweden is now home to some 300,000 Muslims – people of peace, like the majority of Muslims worldwide, people who are playing active roles in their communities, nation and world.
It has never been more important than today for our people to reach out to each other. If we are to create a future of freedom and opportunity for all, we must strengthen our ties and work together more effectively.
In Europe, barriers to the free flow of goods, capital, and people have long been removed. Human rights; democratic, pluralistic values; and social welfare are, more and more, continent-wide concerns. This infrastructure of ideas binds European countries, and it also provides a framework for its partnerships with other nations and regions.
One such partnership is the one between Europe and the countries of the Southern Mediterranean. The ongoing Barcelona Process commits our regions to work together for peace and stability, improve mutual understanding and tolerance, and create shared economic prosperity. This partnership is vital for both regions' futures.
I am proud that Jordan was the first Mashrek country to conclude an Association Agreement with the EU. This partnership between our countries reflects our shared values, and the positive benefits for our countries of increased cooperation. An important step is the progressive creation, by 2010, of a Free Trade Area between Jordan and EU countries. Europe is Jordan's major trade partner – and let me say that Sweden plays a significant and welcome role.
We believe that we can increase trade volumes with Europe – right now, these are about a third of our imports and less than four percent of our exports. We are also grateful for the support that we receive from the union during this period, as reforms transform our economy in the lead-up to the free trade area.
Jordan is committed and on the path to an open, thriving economy. But let me speak clearly. My friends, the Middle East cannot fully experience reform and development, and our global system cannot be fully secure until two critical conflicts are resolved.
In Iraq, it is urgent that the friends of freedom win the peace. That means swift, effective reconstruction and the establishment of a credible, legitimate government. The ultimate objective must be a political process that will lead to an Iraqi government that is freely selected by the Iraqi people.
Now and in the months ahead, humanitarian aid is essential for the healing. I know that Sweden has actively contributed, and for this, may I say, thank you. Your concern and your actions send an important message throughout the region, a message of justice and humanity.
The international community must also solve, and solve now, the central crisis in our region – the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Stagnation in the Middle East; extremism around the world – these are products of a cycle of violence that has dragged on far too long. Efforts to promote moderation and offer new hope cannot fully succeed while this conflict continues.
People on both sides of the conflict desperately want peace and security. And four months ago, in Aqaba, Palestinians and Israelis affirmed their sincere intent to pursue the road to peace. The roadmap has been sanctioned by the international community. To the Israelis, the roadmap offers collective security guarantees by all Arabs; a peace treaty and normal relations with Arab states; and an end to the conflict. To the Palestinians, it offers an end to the occupation; a viable, independent state by 2005; and the promise to live as a free and prospering people.
The roadmap must now be implemented. That will require real commitment, from the international community as well as the parties – commitment that will test our leadership, resources, and yes, our deepest morality. We cannot afford any more missed opportunities.
Today, the people of the Middle East are searching for new hope, hope for a future of prosperity and peace. Over sixty per cent of the population of the Arab World is under 25 years of age. Our young people, like yours, deserve to fulfil their hopes, and not be held hostage to the past.
We have seen the danger and destruction of violence, hatred, and injustice. But we have also seen what people can achieve when they are empowered, when they communicate, exercise their creativity, build knowledge and reach out to others.
It is up to all of us, working together, to create the promise of the 21st Century … a world of freedom and openness … a human community based on respect for others and growing opportunity. Prosperity and peace require us to reject the politics of isolation and division. Only a new partnership, the partnership of human solidarity, can succeed.
Thank you very much.