At the European People's Party Summit
16 December 2010
Thank you President Martens, and thank you all. It is a privilege to be part of your Summit.
It is no exaggeration to say that our two regions are linked in every critical interest: prosperity, security, inter-cultural harmony, energy, and the environment. It is up to us whether that inter-dependence is an agent of progress or an agent of crisis. I opt for progress, and I know the EPP does as well. Today, I'd like to say a few words about three areas where our partnership can make the most impact. If we work together, our countries will move faster toward the security and prosperity we need.
The first area is economic cooperation. A healthy economic balance in the Euro-Med neighborhood may seem like a side issue, but I believe it is central. In my region, a huge new generation is coming of age in the next few years; more than 65 percent of the population. These millions need opportunities, good jobs, better standards of living. Our success will mean greater economic stability, and an opportunity-rich future is one of the most effective answers to extremist agitation. It is a win-win situation.
We know the way ahead. There must be reform; there must be effective, innovative development assistance; there must be much more direct investment. For this we need Europe's continued, active partnership.
Jordan is proud to be the first Middle East country to achieve advanced-status partnership with the EU. This relationship will help create opportunity and boost integration with European standards and structures. I am grateful to all of you who have given us your friendship and support.
For our part, we are pressing ahead with a national reform strategy, for both economic growth and citizen empowerment. We welcomed European observers during our recent parliamentary elections. And we greatly appreciate the EU's continuing support as we build processes and institutions.
Our advanced-status partnership reflects our common values of moderation, and respect for others. This brings me to the second area for cooperation, the urgent need for inter-faith understanding.
First let me say, the EPP sends a global message by its stand for tolerance and against extremism. And as you know, Jordan has taken an extremely pro-active role in promoting the values of tolerance and moderation. We have systematically worked on easing intra and inter religious tensions, which pose a serious threat to our collective security. We started by trying to put our own house in order. Six years ago, we issued the Amman Message, which seeks to build consensus on three essential points: Who is a Muslim and what constitutes essential Muslim belief? Who has the right to give a fatwa? And does anyone have the right to call someone an apostate in Islam?
The Amman Message is intended to spread harmony and love among the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. And it has been supported by recognised religious scholars throughout the Muslim world. The late Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, said the three points of the Amman message constitute “the best resource for those who wish to travel along the straight path in their words and their actions, and in their spiritual and religious life."
In 2007, Jordan sponsored the historical "A Common Word" initiative. Through this open letter by 138 Muslim scholars to the leaders of the Christian Churches, we sought to promote Muslim-Christian harmony.
The initiative proposes "Love of God" and "Love of the Neighbor"; a commandment that the three monotheistic faiths share as a joint platform for peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians.
Speaking at the King Hussein Mosque in Amman in 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI noted that, and I am quoting, "A Common Word letter echoed a theme consistent with my first encyclical: the unbreakable bond between love of God and love of neighbour, and the fundamental contradiction of resorting to violence or exclusion in the name of God."
This year Jordan took the message of religious peace and love to the whole world. We did so by initiating the "World Interfaith Harmony Week," which will be held in the first week of February each year. It will be a voluntary occasion for people to express their own religious teachings about tolerance, respect for others, and peace. When Jordan introduced this resolution at the UN last September, we were joined by friends from around the world. I hope that this event will help more people come together.
I also look forward to cooperating with the EU to promote this initiative, by sponsoring activities that recognise countries which take part in it.
The third urgent area for cooperation is peace: a two-state settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Nothing less can bring the regional, and indeed the global stability, we need in today's dangerous era. For Palestinians, it is a secure future, in an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian state on their own national soil. For Israelis, it is the real security that acceptance and normal relations bring, not just with immediate neighbours, but with 57 Arab and Muslim countries, one third of the UN. For the Middle East, it is the security of a region at peace, able to devote resources to development and progress.
And for the global community, it is the security of a global alliance for moderation and justice; a victory over those who have exploited this crisis to promote extremism and division.
Europe has been an admired voice for settlement. Your direct engagement has been key, not only in support of negotiations, but on the ground, helping the Palestinians build their institutions so that once an agreement is achieved, their state will be up, running and functional.
But now a new level of activity is called from all of us. Facts on the ground are changing rapidly. If negotiations do not succeed, the two-state solution, the only solution that can work, might not be possible. If that hope is killed, we can anticipate much more vicious warfare.
Europe, the US and other countries have already been dragged into regional conflicts. New catastrophic scenarios would only drag the world in deeper.
I noticed that on the home page of the European People's Party, the party's name is given in 34 languages. Nothing says more about the way people can come together in a common cause for a common future. And that example sends a giant message about how our world can best solve the problems of a complex century. And I am pleased to extend to you today my invitation to hold your next summit in Jordan, at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ, at Bethany beyond the Jordan. We will be honoured to be your hosts.
And thank you for letting me join you today.