Interview with His Majesty King Abdullah II

Cristian Campeanu
Romania Libera
06 April 2009

Romania Libera: Your Majesty, we are honoured to have you here, in Bucharest. However, I cannot help but ask you what brings you here? What do you expect from this visit in terms of Jordanian-Romanian relations?

King Abdullah: I am pleased to be back in Romania. I first visited your country in 2004 and then President Basescu visited Jordan in 2005. These visits and other interaction at different levels have helped strengthen our unique bilateral relationship.

Our ties with Romania have always been warm and friendly, and they have stretched into cultural, social, political and economic affairs. Romania is today Jordan’s link to Eastern Europe – our only embassy in this region is here in Bucharest – and it is also a gateway to the countries of the European Union for many Jordanian investors located here. Likewise, Jordan is a natural gateway to the Middle East for Romania, and I plan to attend, with His Excellency President Basescu, the signing of several agreements that will give more impetus to our relations, in trade and investment among other areas of cooperation.

I am in Romania because I value our relations with your country, because I believe there is much more we can do together, and because I want to discuss with President Basescu how we can take further steps to strengthen cooperation and interaction between Romania and Jordan.

Romania Libera: What Romanians know about Jordan is that a lot of Jordanians studied here and that we have an excellent relationship at secret services levels. Is this relationship as great as they say? I mean we all saw “Body of lies” and everybody has an opinion about it. Are your secret services as great as they say, and is the cooperation between Romanians and Jordanians as good as they say?

King Abdullah: Yes, thousands of Jordanians studied in Romanian universities. And thousands of their Romanian partners have made Jordan their second home, and now there are thousands of Jordanian citizens who are half Romanians. So there are strong human and cultural links between our two countries.

As for the second part of your question, what I would like to say here is that Jordan is a proponent of global peace and security, and so we do cooperate with members of the international community that share this goal and seek to advance it. Our security services are professional and a source of pride to Jordanians, they serve with the highest degree of professionalism and integrity and dedication. And I am proud to say that their hard work helped save lives in Jordan, in the Arab world, in Europe and elsewhere.

Romania Libera: The situation in the Middle East is very tense these days and Jordan is in the forefront, very much exposed. So, I wonder, Your Majesty, what can be done to restart the peace process?

King Abdullah: Get back to serious Palestinian-Israeli negotiations immediately. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict must be resolved on the basis of the two-state solution. We cannot afford to go into another open-ended process. There has been too much of that and we now all know what it takes to end this conflict: A two-state solution that guarantees acceptance for Israel and fulfils the right of Palestinians to statehood. This is basically what the Arab Peace Initiative offers. Time is not on our side and we need to move quickly to get the parties back on track, and here the international community has to play an effective role in getting these negotiations started and moving. Israel must make a choice and decide whether it wants to reach peace with its neighbours and have normal relations with them or wants to remain living in a fortress mentality.

It is not enough for Israel to say it is committed to the peace process. As I said, the time for process is long past. It’s time for a commitment to reach a final peace agreement, based on a two-state solution to the conflict. It’s time for serious negotiations toward a final settlement and concrete actions on the ground that improve the day-to-day quality of life of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, to end settlement-building, to stop trying to change the historic character of Jerusalem and to end all unilateral actions that aim to change facts on the ground.

Romania Libera: We have, on one the side, an Israeli government led by Binyamin Netanyahu and on the other side, Hamas, neither of whom are known to be friendly to Jordan and to the peace process. So, what can Jordan do in order to bring the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiation table?

King Abdullah: Again, the parties themselves, and especially Israel, have to show the political will for peace. In Jordan, we have done every thing we can to help end the conflict on the basis that we believe will ensure lasting and comprehensive peace. And we will continue to do so. We have worked closely with Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, to advance the Arab vision for peace that is detailed in the Arab Peace Initiative, to support Egyptian efforts for Palestinian reconciliation, help the Palestinian Authority, and of course, to alleviate the vast human suffering in the Palestinian territories. We have supported Palestinian institution-building. And we regularly use our good offices whenever we can to encourage the international community to engage in peace-making. But in the end, the political will has to come from the parties themselves.

Romania Libera: Former US ambassador to UN, John Bolton, wrote recently a piece for Wall Street Journal, if I’m not mistaken, in which he says, basically. “Look, this is not working! Let us give the West Bank to Jordanians and let us give Gaza to Egyptians and forget about the “two states” solution! What would you say about that?

King Abdullah: I would simply say, no. This is not even a subject for discussion. The two-state solution is the only way to solve the conflict and to achieve comprehensive peace in the region. The United States, Europe, the Arab world, and more importantly, the Palestinians and even many Israeli leaders recognise that the Middle East will not have the peace it deserves unless the Israeli occupation ends to make room for the establishment of a Palestinian state. So let me stress again that the only role Jordan will play in the West Bank is to help the Palestinian people build their state.

Romania Libera: The Americans are very wary about the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons and they seem very determined to prevent it. What is the feeling in your country and in the Arab world about this issue?

King Abdullah: The feeling in Jordan is that we want a region free of weapons of mass destruction. Any state with nuclear capabilities – for whatever purpose, civilian or military – should adhere to international treaties and conventions regarding the proliferation of nuclear arms and the development of nuclear capabilities. That said, we believe that the international crisis over Iran’s nuclear capabilities needs a diplomatic solution, one that contributes to the stability of the area and ensures balanced regional relations. Our region cannot afford another costly conflict. We want a region of peace, where relations among all states are based on mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of any other state.