|H.M. Abdullah II Calls On Europe to Take a Leadership Role|
H.M. Abdullah II Calls On Europe to Take a Leadership Role
Address by His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan welcomed by Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament in Strasburg. Source: Press Office, European Parliament, June 12, 2002 (Summary). Photo © Yousef Allan, King Abdullah II's Photographer.
H.M. Queen Rania, King Abdullah II and President Cox
The President continued saying that the King had worked to improve the life of his people, by instituting a broad programme of economic and legislative reform through an ambitious, five-year development plan. This plan aimed to upgrade public and social services and speed up economic reform. The Parliament welcomed in particular the commitment to guaranteeing a full role for women in Jordan's society. On many occasions, the European Parliament has called for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. The Parliament's President stated that the European Parliament strongly believed that the path to peace will not be found in terrorism, assassinations, violence or force. The EU recognised the contribution which his Majesty and Jordan is playing in the search for peace and reconciliation in the whole.
King Abdullah II of Jordan addressed the House. He opened his speech by saying that the EU could serve as a model for the world. As Jean Monnet said 50 years ago, 'we are not creating a coalition of states, we are uniting people'.
He continued saying that the EU had no more important partners than the countries of the southern Mediterranean. It was not only the fact that overlapping civilisations existed but also that the EU and Jordan shared deeply intertwined values such as democratic freedoms and the defence of human rights.
Turning to the events of September 11 and the aftermath, he expressed gratitude to the peoples of Europe who spoke out clearly and forcefully against targeting innocent Arab and Muslim peoples. He said that he came to the European Parliament to thank Europe for all it has done to contribute to a future of peace and prosperity for all peoples. Importantly, he stated, neither in the West nor in the Arab world could civilisation allow Islam to be equated with terrorism. He declared that 'we must avoid stereotypes, whether they be of the Arab world, Europe or our friends across the Atlantic when this occurred, civilisation loses out.'
Turning to relations between Jordan and the European Union specifically, the King was honoured to declare that Jordan was the first Mashrek country to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union. He expressed the importance of the creation, by 2010, of a Free Trade Area between Jordan and the EU. The EU provides a market for about a third of all Jordan's imports.
He called for immediate support from the EU for a strategy which would allow Jordan to exit from its heavy debt burden which constrained Jordan's potential to grow. Despite this, Jordan succeeded in achieving 4.2% growth in GDP last year.
The last part of his speech was dedicated to the Israeli/Palestinian situation. He plainly stated that it would be impossible to have economic and political security in the Middle East region unless the Palestinian/Israeli situation is resolved. He delivered his speech on the 35th anniversary to the day that cease-fire lines in the 1967 war were drawn-up. He believed that the parameters for a solution were in place. At the recent Arab Summit in Beirut an Arab vision for peace was set out. He explained that this initiative explicitly recognised the interests of Israel, while at the same time, it fulfilled Palestinian desires to live freely in a sovereign State that encompassed the borders of the West Bank in Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. He called this vision a strongly balanced plan. Israel would receive the security guarantees that it needed. Israel's security, legitimacy, international recognition, Arab acceptance and peaceful future would be positively guaranteed. At the same time Palestinians would gain the independence they desired. The plan also put forward an agreed solution to the refugee question. He did not want to see the process become hostage to the whims of those who chose to obstruct peace. He called on Europe to take a leadership role and reminded the House that last month Jordan called for a new Peace Alliance for the Middle East. This Alliance would be composed of the US, Europe, Russia, Arab and other countries which would provide security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Finally, he urged the European Parliament to play an important role in resolving conflicts as the EU provided a model for those who lived in a cycle of violence. He ended again with a quote from Jean Monnet 'when one has decided on one's objective, it is necessary to act without making assumptions about the risk of not succeeding, as long as you have not tried a thing, you cannot say that this is impossible'.