Official website of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein

Professor Dogramaci,
Honourable Members of the Board of Trustees,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of all Jordanians, allow me to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation for the honour bestowed upon me today by Bilkent University. It is truly an honour that I accept, with the pride of Jordanians and with the spirit of their determination to pursue what is noble and excellent in this world, namely, peace and harmony with themselves and with others. It is a determination born out of a solid belief in a tolerant religion, a diverse culture and a history filled with achievement, to define a course of action for the entry of a nation into the new knowledge-based economy with vigour and effectiveness. It is a strategic choice to turn the page of the past with its wars and conflicts, and open a new chapter of peace and co-operation.

This is Jordan, ladies and gentlemen, a country that has continuously placed its regional responsibilities at the top of its agenda and has always sought to nurture moderation and stability in a region that has been deprived of both; a country intent on providing economic opportunity to a young population that is eager to harness its talents for the good of its nation; a country where the rule of law is the norm and where democracy, human rights and pluralism define the political landscape.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to share with you some of the challenges that face Jordan at this time. Preserving peace, building upon it, and solidifying its different aspects is the greatest task that lies ahead of us. The Jordan of today is in need of domestic strength on the political, economic and social fronts if it is to face the new challenges of peace. In fact, the role of Jordan in enhancing the security and stability of our region within the framework of peace has become more demanding in terms of its requirements, and certainly more challenging in terms of its implications. It is with this in mind that we have prioritised our national agenda to reflect the required measures for playing a positive and leading role in the new set of intra-regional relations.

At the top of this agenda is our determination to deepen our democratisation process and to ensure that the culture of democracy becomes embedded in society through daily practices. An important consideration in this regard is the issue of national unity. Jordanians, men and women, regardless of origin, religion, or ideology, should continue to feel equal before the law, as guaranteed by our Constitution. We need to strive to guarantee, through legislation and practice, that this continues to be a reality. A strong and independent judiciary that will ensure full transparency and security for all citizens is a matter that we place great importance on. We are committed to amending existing legislation and introducing new laws as may be required, to guarantee that the opportunities are there for all Jordanians to participate in the development of their civil society.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the new framework of regional relations to be sustainable, it must be built on a commonality of economic interests acceptable to all. The globalisation of international economic affairs, ranging from trade matters to the protection of intellectual property rights, has left no room for narrow differences among nations to obstruct the process of establishing a new mode of regional economic co-operation. Certain requirements are essential for the establishment of this new framework, including a strong political will to positively address issues of asymmetry in the social and economic conditions of neighbouring states. Equally important is the determination of states in the region to pursue the path of economic reform and to adopt and pursue liberal policies regarding trade, investment, and the free movement of capital. Jordan has been a leading pioneer in the regard. Our commitment to pursue economic reform, as evidenced by the continued efforts to achieve monetary and fiscal stability, to continue the privatisation of government-owned companies, and to further improve the investment climate, has placed us at the forefront of those countries intent on helping themselves before seeking the assistance of others. Jordan's entry into an association agreement with the European Union and our accession to the World Trade Organisation have paved the ground for an effective and meaningful participation in the global economy. Despite a fourth consecutive year of relatively low growth in our national income, our will to continue with the reform of our economy has not wavered. On the contrary, we realise that the more attractive our economy becomes to foreign direct investment, the easier and quicker will it emerge from these modest levels. It is this realisation that has placed the goal of attaining economic stability at the top of our agenda.

The solution to the refugee issue is another major challenge that we in Jordan need to consider very delicately. The point to be made is that only a Jordan at peace and harmony with itself, strong with its people, and confident of its future, can deal with such a challenge in a constructive manner. The issue, however, is not a purely Jordanian or Jordanian-Palestinian one. Rather, it permeates regional states to transcend international legality. Our position is well known, and calls for the right of return and compensation in accordance with international legality as pronounced in United Nations Resolution 194. Jordan remains steadfast in its support for this position, and will never permit narrow political considerations to affect its call for the restoration of rights whenever, and wherever, they were usurped.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we strive to achieve our domestic agenda of political and economic reform, we cannot remain hostage to the political uncertainties of the future. There is an absolute requirement to know where we are heading if we are to succeed in fulfilling our regional role. Internal stability is one such essential factor if we are to face the challenges of the peace process. Equally, there is also a need to close a sad and turbulent chapter on the eastern frontier of Jordan. Iraq continues to be outside the regional framework, with its people suffering from poverty and starvation. Increasingly, the purpose for which the economic sanctions were originally imposed is no longer clear, nor agreed upon by the community of states. Within this atmosphere, no one is certain of the future of Iraq and the prospects for the Iraqi people, a fact that threatens our national and regional efforts for security and co-operation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have to face up to the challenges facing us in order not to jeopardise the success of a viable model of democracy, freedom, and free enterprise. On our behalf, let me state from this podium that we shall continue to do all that we can to help advance the peace process until we achieve this noble goal and start enjoying the fruits of a new set of relations in the Middle East.

Professor Dogramaci,

You know what challenge is all about. You have devoted your life to the challenges of child health and higher education. You established two universities, one of which is this one, the first private university in Turkey. You have set an example in initiating reform and surmounting obstacles. This is exactly the task that we have set ourselves to do.

Thank you very much.