At the Indian Council of World Affairs
New Delhi, India
30 November 2006
Director General Talmiz Ahmad,
Five years ago, your Parliament declared the Indian World Affairs Council an “institution of national importance.” For India's friends across the world, it is an institution of international importance as well.
It is a critical time in human history. But for developing countries, there are significant opportunities as well. New models of economic success and new patterns of trade are transforming the global economy. Innovative strategies and alliances for development are bringing results and new hope. Our countries face very real security challenges, but also a growing recognition of our shared interest in cooperation and peace.
In the 20th century, global empires shaped the future for developing countries. But in the 21st century, we are increasingly shaping our own future and the future of developed societies as well.
There is no better example than India itself. Your country has been at the forefront of the emerging multi-polar world. You are setting global standards for innovation, excellence and creativity - from world-ranked universities and technical institutes, to widely-admired entrepreneurial success, to effective initiatives like e-government and more. In the economy, reforms and achievements have led to impressive economic growth and global influence. Within the international community, India has been a strong advocate of UN reform, ensuring that this central global institution reflects new global realities.
Let me say a word about our economic ties. Today, trade among developing countries is a significant percentage of world trade. More and more, we are each other's partners - some 40 percent of the developing world's global trade is between our own countries. Such trade and financial flows are a growing factor in development and positive change. They create new markets, contributing to global economic stability. All this helps us focus attention on the concerns of the developing world, including market access, debt relief, and resources for development.
Jordan has worked to bring together a key group of mostly lower-middle income countries, the G-11. Member countries believe in taking the necessary steps toward sustainable development and are making transformative developmental gains. These promise to lift us over the income threshold and stabilise our economies at higher levels. Our success will contribute to regional and global stability. A continued global commitment is essential in sustaining the progress. And the G-11 will be working together and with other countries to mobilise global recognition and support.
Bilateral partnerships are also critical, especially in harnessing the power of the private sector for growth and development. The plain fact is that our countries must open new opportunities if we are to prosper and stay secure. Jordan has a comprehensive national strategy to grow opportunity. We have invested strongly in education to give our young people the 21st century skills they need. Our political stability creates a strong environment for economic activity. Export-oriented growth is being advanced through special economic zones, and other initiatives. And as many of you know, Jordan, a WTO member since 2000, also provides access to international markets, through our free trade agreements, particularly with the US and the EU.
Let me say, I am committed to opportunities that will benefit all Jordanians and our international partners. I am especially keen to develop our synergies with India. Your country is one of Jordan's most important trade partners - a relationship that has grown rapidly and I hope will continue to grow. There are great opportunities for joint ventures and other collaboration in major areas, including IT and pharmaceuticals.
Another vital area for cooperation is cultural and interfaith understanding. India and the Arab world have historic ties. Our civilisations have interacted for thousands of years. India has an important and historic Muslim community. Our countries know that the future of this world depends on respect among faiths and justice among peoples.
Jordan is committed to global dialogue - keeping the bridges open, and enhancing understanding and co-existence. Our main religions share core social values, including respect for others. In the Amman Message - supported by Muslim scholars and leaders from around the world - Islam's teachings on moderation, tolerance, and compassion are clearly set out. These are the teachings that underlie Jordan's own commitment, as an Islamic nation, to respect among all our citizens, Muslim and non-Muslim.
Our shared values and interests also call on us to work together for peace and security. Ongoing conflicts in our region are not only sources of endless human tragedy. They are breeding grounds for extremism and terror, which have spread across the globe and undermined global security.
The core conflict in our region continues to be fuelled by the denial of Palestinian rights and sovereignty. This ongoing crisis is the cause of immense suffering and violence. And today, it is contributing to a deepening regional instability. Violence and conflict have become the norms for the region. They are increasingly frequent and destructive.
We must reverse this dangerous trend. We must rebuild confidence in peace. This is the objective of the Arab Peace Initiative. It calls for the creation of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state which will allow for comprehensive regional peace, including full normal relations and security guarantees between all Arab states and Israel.
To get there, confidence must first be restored. That means achieving results on the ground, bringing tangible relief to the victims of violence and occupation. And it means giving Palestinians and Israelis a political horizon that gives them hope to overcome their distrust and fear. All this will require support from Arab countries, the Quartet of major powers, and leading nations like yours. Delay and failure will have unimaginable consequences for all our countries. Success will have global benefits, closing one door of opportunity to extremists.
This is especially important when we consider the acute situation in Iraq. This crisis, too, calls urgently for international cooperation - to stabilise the country, engage all communities in the political process, and rebuild a sovereign, unified and stable Iraq.
Jordan also hopes that India and Pakistan can find a peaceful resolution of the problem of Jammu and Kashmir that will enable the people of the region to live in peace, which they so rightfully deserve.
In today's world, one fact is abundantly clear. Just as no nation is isolated from the problems of our global system, so, too, every nation must be involved in its progress. Our century offers tremendous potential to create a better future - to expand development; to end destructive conflicts; and to give a new generation the opportunities they need and deserve. Yet to move forward, we need the participation of people throughout society and across the world - leaders of business, government, and civil society - East as well as West, South as well as North. India has set an example for empowering the disadvantaged and enabling grass root governance and development. It has given people the tools to build and shape their lives. It has become a model of innovation, and rapid positive transformation.
In Jordan, and here in India, I have met visionary men and women who believe in our ability to create positive change. Let us work together - together, we will succeed.
Thank you very much.