At the State Banquet Hosted by Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja
10 April 2000
It is a great pleasure for Rania and I to be with you this evening on our state visit to Norway. On behalf of the entire Jordanian delegation, allow me to express our sincere appreciation for the warm hospitality that we have enjoyed since our arrival earlier this morning. I would also like to convey the sincere feelings of admiration and friendship that the Jordanian people hold for your wonderful country and for the proud Norwegian people.
Relations between our two Kingdoms are very special indeed. The two royal families enjoy a long tradition of friendship, mutual respect, and admiration. Our two governments also have a special and effective working relationship at both the political and economic levels. Our non-governmental organisations have also developed common frameworks of co-operation in educational, cultural, and social spheres. Perhaps most telling is the relationship that is evolving between people and companies in the private sectors in both Jordan and Norway. They are laying solid foundations for a sustainable and productive partnership which will guarantee the desired returns for investors in these companies, while also offering know-how and employment opportunities to Jordanians. It is indeed a partnership that will give meaning to concepts that we regularly mention, concepts that include narrowing the gap between rich and poor, and transferring technology from North to South. They are concepts upon which we have already established a common ground. This mutual understanding is evident in the respect that we hold for democratic pluralistic principles, and in the sanctity with which we regard human and civil rights. It has been reinforced through the active and historic role that Norway plays in forging a peace agreement aimed at solving the central issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict, namely the plight of the Palestinian people. We in Jordan appreciate the efforts made by Norway, and your outstanding achievement in securing an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis back in 1993. Where the attempts of all others failed, Norway was able to produce results largely because of the credibility and respect with which all parties regard her. Your country, Your Majesty, should be proud of giving hope to people who had almost despaired, and for showing them promise where reality looked bleak. Your continuing pursuit of a just and lasting peace in the holiest of lands has endeared you to Jordanians, to Arabs and to Israelis who could hope for nothing more meaningful or rewarding. For this, Your Majesty, we are grateful indeed.
As we enter a new century equipped with sound ideas on economic progress, social development, and cultural wealth, Norway provides a successful model for all of us in the developing world. The political stability, social responsibility, and economic development that the Norwegian model offers is a textbook definition of the balance that needs to be established between the public and private sectors, between social justice and free enterprise, and between equality and opportunity. Your pioneering and innovative economic leadership at the global level proves beyond a doubt that social justice and equality can accompany and even complement an economic strategy based on private sector initiative. It is a model that deserves to be studied and emulated by countries where heated debates over the merits of privatisation often obscure the success stories witnessed elsewhere in the world. In fact, there is much more that we Jordanians can learn from this rich civilisation and successful example of progress. I am confident that this visit will open the doors even wider for increased co-operation as well as deeper and more frequent exchanges between our two peoples. It is our desire to work with you to sustain the momentum in the peace process and expand it to become a comprehensive one. I am personally committed and determined to work towards this goal. I believe that Norway's role in this regard is indispensable and vital.
On behalf of the Jordanian people, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to visit our country, where Rania and I hope to return some of the hospitality that we are enjoying in your realm. We hope that we can welcome you in Jordan in the not too distant future and show you a little of what Jordan and Jordanians are doing to make our region a better place for all of us to live.
In closing, allow me to thank you for your kind generosity and your warm reception. I would like to propose a toast: to the continued success and happiness of Your Majesties, the prosperity of the people of Norway, and the friendship between Norway and Jordan.