At the State Banquet Hosted by Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia
7 October 2003
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to join you tonight, in this magnificent setting. Rania and I, and our entire delegation, thank you for receiving us with such warmth and hospitality.
Some years ago, Your Majesty, my father King Hussein had the pleasure of welcoming you and Queen Silvia to Jordan … and I must tell you that tonight, he is much in my mind. The friendship between our two royal families is one that he prised, and one that I prize. It is a friendship not only of people but also of shared values: a commitment to public service … a duty to help improve people's lives … and a belief in peace and dialogue.
Our countries have something else in common; and that is, the great good fortune to have extraordinary queens. Queen Silvia is known worldwide for her very effective leadership on behalf of children, the disabled and elderly, and against drug abuse. I know that Queen Rania looked to Her Majesty as a model, when she began her own active work for intercultural dialogue, micro-finance and development, and women's and children's rights. Last February, Queen Silvia and Queen Rania became the first women ever to receive the prestigious German Media Prize. The prize jury called them “the two most important women between the Orient and the Occident.” I could not have said it better myself!
I am delighted that this visit will give us an opportunity to strengthen historic ties. I and Jordan's entire delegation have begun meeting and talking with Swedish leaders, from government, business and civil society. Together, we are discussing economic cooperation, based on strong common interests. We are exchanging views on international developments. And we are keen to find ways for our two countries to work together on urgent global matters, especially the quest for peace.
Sweden and Jordan both recognise the critical need to achieve a comprehensive peace and stability in the Middle East. Even as we speak here tonight, events in the region are developing rapidly. If peace is to succeed, we must act with real unity and determination. It is time to put the roadmap to peace on an irreversible course to Palestinian statehood, Israeli security, and prosperity for all in the Middle East. Global peace, and regional development and reform, cannot occur until this central conflict is ended.
Restoring stability in Iraq, and providing the requirements for the democratic expression of the free will of the Iraqi people, is also of paramount importance. I know that your country is actively contributing to the healing of Iraq, and let me say, this commitment sends an important message of goodwill throughout the Arab world.
Indeed, Sweden has a long record of service and sacrifice in the cause of peace. I cannot let this occasion pass without expressing to you Jordan's deep sorrow upon the death of Anna Lindh. All who worked with her admired her humanity and intelligence and sense of justice. She, and so many Swedes like her, are the reason the world so greatly respects your country's voice on the global stage.
Your Majesty, your motto is “Sweden – with the times,” but it is equally true that you and the Swedish people have acted “for global good, with the times.” Your country has been a global model of development and progress. You have played an active and constructive role in promoting human rights, and your people set a global standard for excellence in business and leadership in humanitarian outreach. My friends, we are here to listen and learn in partnership for a better future for all.
As you know, Jordan is currently engaged in an accelerated process of political and economic reform. Our aim is an inclusive, democratic society, one that provides real hope and real solutions: political and economic stability, economic growth, and genuine social empowerment. Jordan's model reflects the strength and energy that grows out of a dialogue of cultures and faiths – the multi-ethnic, tolerant society that is Islam's truest, deepest tradition. We are determined to pursue the legacy of His Late Majesty King Hussein – the triumph of reason over extremism, of peace over conflict and strife.
May I say that Sweden has earned the admiration of the entire Arab world for its own dedication to an open, inclusive civil society. It is a model of dialogue and acceptance that can benefit both East and West. And I look forward to meeting with the leaders of Sweden's thriving Muslim community.
Sweden and Jordan are old friends in a new century. I believe that our shared values and concerns will form the basis for continued cooperation and partnership.
Your warm welcome to us is a symbol of that friendship and our shared hopes for the future. In that spirit, Rania and I hope to welcome you soon in Jordan. We will try to reciprocate some of the kindness that you have shown to us. And we are eager to show you all that Jordan's wonderful people have achieved since last you saw our beautiful land.
Thank you very much.