On Thursday, December 10, 2015, Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan attended the MED 2015: Mediterranean Dialogues Conference in Rome, Italy.
During yesterday’s forum His Majesty gave an important speech. Here is what he had to say in front of thousands of attendees including 40 heads of state:
Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim Presidente Napolitano, Premier Renzi, Ministro Gentiloni, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all. It is an honour to help open the premiere conference of the Rome Mediterranean Dialogues. I know I speak for everyone here in thanking our Italian hosts for bringing us together at a critical moment.
This gathering carries forward a living dialogue. For centuries, the people of the Middle East, Europe and North Africa have engaged with each other through trade, cooperation and learning. We communicate through the arts and culture of a common past; through ancient heritage sites and vibrant modern cities on both sides of the Mediterranean. We speak many languages, but shared values give us a common voice: for tolerance, for peace, and for mutual respect.
In our generation, this living dialogue has come under assault. The terrorists, who struck Paris in November, or those who bombed Amman ten years ago, or those who are operating worldwide today, seek more than violent destruction. They seek to silence the voices of tolerance and cooperation and divide us from each other.
The fact is, we will rise or fall together. Our regions are connected in virtually every way. When individual economies or political systems fail, when refugees flee, when violent groups find havens; when climate change dries wells and farmland, when millions of young people cannot find jobs, the impact cannot simply be contained and ignored. What once seemed national challenges are today global challenges.
Yet it is this inter-dependence that also gives us power to respond. Within our broad Mediterranean region, partnership unleashes tremendous capabilities to shape the future we need: by economic, diplomatic and security action and above all, by protecting the core values that will sustain our future.
No where is the need for partnership clearer than in the regional refugee crisis we face today. In recent years, Italy and other European countries have experienced an inflow of desperate people. Jordanians understand the fortitude and humanity that is being demanded of you — because our own country has been coping with an even larger refugee burden, for even longer. Jordan currently hosts 1.4 million Syrian refugees, one for every five Jordanians. One-quarter of our national budget is being consumed by refugee-related costs.
For Jordanians, compassionate action is a moral duty. But the reality is that we and a few other regional host countries are carrying this refugee burden on behalf of the entire international community. The answer cannot simply be emergency aid — as vital as that is. There must be comprehensive, global engagement, to address a crisis that realistically, will not end soon.
In economic terms, this means sustainable development support, especially in creating jobs and income. By partnering with us, enhancing trade arrangements and supporting our development infrastructure, Europe can help build a stronger Mediterranean neighbourhood. This creates opportunity in both regions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Jordan has worked actively with the global community for a comprehensive approach to the challenges that terrorist groups pose today. I have said from the outset that we are fighting a war within Islam against the outlaws of Islam, the Khawarej. Yet, as is painfully seen, these terrorists and outlaws threaten the entire world. They spare no peoples; they respect no boundaries, moral or geographic. The Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas have all been targets. This is a war we have to fight, and win, as a united global community.
Our efforts must be framed within a broader strategy of military, diplomatic and human-development policies. In Syria, a political process is the only way forward to a credible, inclusive, non-sectarian future, one that will preserve Syria’s unity and independence. I am hopeful that we can now grab the opportunity that has emerged in the Vienna talks to move this process forward.
Everywhere, we must stand behind the principles that unite our world. Today is International Human Rights Day, but until the Palestinian people achieve their rights, millions of people around the world will be cynical about the reality of global justice. Terror propaganda and recruitment thrive on this conflict, and we all pay the price.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mutual respect is the rockbed of partnership. We need to understand how critically linked we are. Muslims in Europe are part of the fabric of history and society, just as Arab Christians are part of the fabric of the Middle East. Europe’s Muslim-majority countries in the Balkans are part of its regional future, just as our regions are part of a shared global future. No hatred, no persecution of minorities can ever be justified or tolerated. This is the message we must give the next generation.
Islam commands mercy and compassion, and upholds the equal dignity of every person. The Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.” This Golden Rule is found in Christianity, Judaism, and other religions. This is the message we must give the next generation.
At the heart of our partnership are the values of cooperation and mutual aid. Our regions will only move forward by moving forward together. This is a pragmatic reality, but it is more. It reflects the moral strength that will sustain us. This is the message we must give the next generation, not only through what we teach but what we do.
Here, at the Rome-Med Dialogues, your voices will help send these messages and more. To preserve and advance the shared moral values on which tolerant, inclusive, stable societies are built.
I wish all of you the greatest success.