At the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
13 July 2007
Mr Prime Minister,
Thank you for your warm welcome. It is an honour to be with you today. I am very aware, in this building named for the late Lester Pearson, of Canada's long and distinguished role as a leader in global affairs and, especially, your many contributions to the future of the Middle East. Jordan's partnership with Canada was close to the heart of my father, King Hussein, and it remains vital to all of us today. On behalf of my fellow Jordanians, I thank you all.
When Canada's Lester Pearson received the Nobel Peace Prize, he described the challenge facing our world not only as how to bring about a creative peace; but also, how to create a foundation for lasting security. And he understood, in a deep way, that the path forward must include an international community that comes together in consensus and mutual respect.
That was fifty years ago. Today, we are still facing the challenge of peace, security, and global respect. And it is clearer than ever that how we succeed still depends on our ability to come together, understand our shared interests, and act as one.
The fact is that in the 21st Century world, we share an economic and political destiny, just as much as we share the future of Earth's air and water. And in just the same way, we have a tremendous shared responsibility to work together to preserve what we value and shape the future we want. A future in which our people are safe, economic life can thrive, the heritage we treasure can be passed to our children, and where inclusive, modern, civil societies can flourish all over the globe.
In the case of Canada and Jordan, this shared vision has been the basis of an enduring partnership. Our countries have worked together to promote human security through global policy institutions and on-the-ground activities like mine removal, training Iraqi civil defence forces and much else. We share a commitment to global economic opportunity, especially for the world's youth. And over many decades, we have been working together in the cause of peace.
One of the most important areas for our shared concern and cooperation is, without a doubt, the Middle East. It is an area where Canada has had a profound impact and, I believe, a vital position of continuing influence and respect. The very name of Ottawa is linked to some of the most pressing global issues - the Ottawa Convention against land mines and of course, the Ottawa Process to bring justice for Palestinian refugees. Where there is division, Canada's great tradition of pluralism has helped translate across the divides. And where there are seeds of hope, your leadership has helped progress grow.
Today, I come to ask Canada, our friend, to help shape a future of peace and opportunity in the Middle East. It is a challenge, I know, to think about the future at a time of crisis. But at no time is it more necessary.
There have now been 40 years of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land - more than two generations raised in violence and frustration. The last meaningful political process between Palestinians and Israelis was so long ago that there are children in school today who were not even born then. And the potential division of the Palestinian people threatens peace prospects every single day.
These dangers are reality, but not the entire reality. Behind the headlines, millions of people on both sides need and want an end to conflict. Millions of Palestinians are united in their dream of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state. Millions of Israelis look to the day they can live in peace with their neighbours.
This is the seed of a future we must nourish. What happens on the ground in the next days and weeks is obviously critical, but the parties do not act in isolation. The international community can and must help shape the strategic direction of events. It begins by keeping the focus on the central objective. And that is a final settlement, which can stop an expansion of violence and clear the way to thriving, stable, civic life.
Arab leaders have worked intensively to move such a process forward. This March, our countries unanimously renewed the Arab Peace Initiative. It is a historic opportunity for a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement - one that brings an end to conflict, one that provides collective security guarantees for all the countries of the region including Israel, and at long last, one that provides a sovereign, viable, and independent Palestine.
This is an initiative whose time has come - a time in which we can envision, and create, a new future for my region. To meet that need, our aim must be a political process with a clear direction and outcomes. There must be a timetable that plans for, and sees to the finish line, the establishment of a Palestinian state. And it must expedite Israel's implementation of required action, including a withdrawal from the Palestinian territories and an end to occupation.
But for all this to happen, the larger international community must be engaged. An urgent first step is support for the Palestinian National Authority, especially in its efforts to alleviate suffering and strengthen national institutions. Palestinian legitimacy must be supported in providing the governance that can fulfil people's aspirations and needs, earn public confidence, and preserve Palestinian unity.
Achieving peace is only the beginning. Peace can only be sustained if the people of our region have the opportunity to lead a productive and satisfying life. For that to be possible, the economies of our region must maximise their potential. There are opportunities for investment in infrastructure, for participation in a growing private sector and for developing markets. In Jordan, men, women and youth are all engaged in national advances. The result is a well-defined strategy for development and reform.
Nothing is more important to the future. In my region, out of a total population of 325 million people, more than 60 percent are 24 or younger. That represents nearly 200 million young people who need and deserve a chance for a productive and rewarding life.
These young men and women of today are truly the Crossroads Generation. This is a generation who can choose to respect others and reach out in cooperation, who can enrich the future with their talent, creativity and energy, and who can develop our regional economy into a strong global entity. To share in the promise of the 21st Century, they need your support.
Your great country has long been admired for its deep commitment to global fairness and justice. That leadership has never been needed more than now.
There is no doubt that the situation today is difficult. But we cannot let this stop us from acting. We must be ready to make bold decisions and decisive steps.
I ask Canada, our friend, to help. I ask you to help guide the path of peace in a region that has seen too much conflict, to open the door to prosperity for millions whose potential is yet unmet, and to welcome as a global partner, a region seeking its rightful place in the progress of our world.Working together, we can achieve what the Middle East needs and the world needs: a future of security for this generation and the generations to come.
Thank you very much.