There Must Be no More Missed Opportunities Says King Abdallah II

Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II upon receiving the « Prix annuel pour son courage et sa vision de l’avenir du Moyen-Orient » given by the Association de Politique étrangère de la Sorbonne. Tuesday, September 30 2003 Paris. Source : His Majesty King Abdullah II, King of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s Website. Photo © E-S.

Queen Rania and King Abdullah II of Jordan at the Sorbonne – Photo © E-S

Mesdames et Messieurs les Ministres,
M. Le Recteur,
M. Zorgbibe,
M. Wajsman,
Chers amis,

C’est un grand honneur et un immense privilège d’être ici aujourd’hui avec vous. Au nom de tous les Jordaniens et les Arabes qui travaillent pour la paix, la tolérance, et la justice – j’accepte ce prix, avec grand plaisir, et profonde reconnaissance.

My friends, I thank you. Through this distinguished prize, you honour the courageous people of my country and region, who are creating a new vision and a new future. Chief among them are our young people, men and women who are determined to contribute to our century and share in its promise. And what is our future, what is our today, except in their talent and vitality, their strong, positive values, and their sense of possibility and hope? To me, it is not courage, but simple duty, to seek to nurture and sustain these gifts – to help create the conditions and attitudes that let our people thrive, interact, create, and fulfil their dreams.

Of course, in the 21st Century, no peoples stand alone. France and Jordan. Europe and the Middle East, all nations, all regions participate in creating and shaping our era. That responsibility has given the world’s people a critical choice.

On the one hand is a vision of freedom and openness, a human community based on respect for others and growing opportunity. On the other hand is a world of violence and disorder, based on division and decay.

If our century is to meet its full promise to humanity, we must act with humanity. I believe this will require a new, three-dimensional approach. We must reach back, to the greatest traditions of our civilizations – traditions of compassion, liberty, and reason. We must reach forward, to the new insights and capabilities that will improve life for the millions in need. And we must reach out, to each other, to create a World community of respect and dialogue, a partnership of intercultural openness.

This is a responsibility that Jordan takes seriously. Our small country has reached out to help build a worldwide community of the friends of peace. We deeply honour our Arab and Islamic heritage – an heritage that is, in its truest sense, one of faith, tolerance and diversity. And we are building on that foundation, as we move forward with a dynamic process of domestic reform, regional development, and initiatives for peace.

Our basic aim 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.

The Jordan model builds on our society’s strengths, values and history while it reaches out to global opportunities. I believe such a model can be an effective path toward democracy and prosperity, for a region that is tired of dead-ends and despair.

Jordan’s vision is spurred on by our young people, who are the vast majority of the population. Almost three of every five Jordanians are 25 or younger. Our youth energize our society, inspire us with their passion and idealism, and humble us with their expectations. They want to access to opportunity, and a modern civil society that respects the rights of men and women. They pray for peace, and they challenge delays. And they ask how long justice for Palestine will be denied.

Two weeks ago, here in Paris, some of these young Jordanians participated in a World Bank conference on youth, development and peace. Seventy countries and many different cultures and views were represented. Jim Wolfensohn told me later that these young people wondered why their elders could not come together with the same spirit of mutual respect!

  • Chers amis,

Let me assure you that we are listening to the voice of reason coming from the hearts and souls of young Jordanian and Arab minds.

Some people say we must create a better tomorrow for our youth. I say we must create a better today. This must begin with solutions to our most urgent, most central problems. Stagnation in the Middle East; extremism around the world – these are products of a core conflict that has dragged on for far too long. Promoting moderation and implementing reform cannot fully succeed while this conflict continues. My friends, the international community must address itself to solve, and solve now, the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In the cause of peace, Jordanians feel a special responsibility. From our soil, the Levant, faith in One God. The united belief of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam took root and spread across the world. Today, we believe our soil can also be the seedbed of new tolerance and hope.

Less than 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. Achieving this will require more than words and wishes. It 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. There must be no more missed opportunities.

The challenge is great. But the rewards of peace will be even greater – for the Middle East, and for the world. As it has been said, and rightly so, « si la paix a un prix, elle est également sans prix. »

  • Chers amis,

I believe that the people of the world have a common need and a common purpose: to make a safer future, and a better future, starting today. There are still too many people in need, too many who are not empowered, and more young people facing these harsh realities every day.

Today, we stand on the brink of a new age, challenged to use the lessons of the past to create a new future. We have seen the danger and destruction of violence, hatred, and injustice. But we have also seen how people can achieve when they are empowered, when they communicate, exercise their creativity, build knowledge and reach out to others.

This positive course is the one we have set in Jordan. As a people, we are living our heritage, one of deep faith and respect for diversity. As a community, we are investing in the education, technology, and infrastructure needed to succeed in a global economy. As a nation, we are taking the risk and responsibility to empower our citizens, to work against terror and to pursue peace.

The challenges ahead are real. To build a society that is able to provide political empowerment, economic prosperity and cultural wealth for its people. To bring the benefits of new technology to those who are less fortunate, and to fulfill the promise of peace and security for the victims of conflict and violence.

It is a challenge that calls for leaders of courage and wisdom throughout society to listen, to respond, and most of all to act. Our children are asking us to make a difference, to have the courage to make a difference, to act now to make a difference. I believe that we can – and that together, we will succeed.

Je vous remercie.

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