At the ceremony to inaugurate the new headquarters of the World Affairs Council
31 January 2012
(Translated from Arabic)
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate
Your Excellency Dr. Abdul Salam Al Majali,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be with you today for the opening of the new headquarters of this distinguished think-tank, which has been spearheading research, debate and dialogue since its establishment, in 1977.
Throughout the past 35 years, the activities of the World Affairs Council have maintained a consistent pace and have widened in scope – a testimony to the sincere efforts by all those in charge, including the board of trustees, the board of directors and the council members. Your work is highly appreciated.
I would also like to thank the donors, loyal friends of Jordan and advocates of knowledge, whose contributions have been crucial to financing these new headquarters and enhancing the Council’s role as a beacon of thought, research and dialogue on issues and challenges facing the countries and peoples of this region.
The pioneering mission and noble goals of the World Affairs Council reflect the approach of the Jordanian state towards institutionalised and constructive scientific and intellectual dialogue. The Council has offered a platform for scholars and experts to express their ideas and contribute to the development of the country.
On this day, we remember the founder of modern Jordan, His Majesty the late King Hussein. We remember his vision, aspirations and determination to build Jordan as an example of resilience in overcoming challenges and realising the greatest achievements by relying on the talents of our people. This approach stems from our conviction that, through our resolve, we can make miracles and turn challenges into opportunities.
I address you today as a distinguished elite working for Jordan and its future and for the Arabs' foremost cause, Palestine, and the right of the brotherly Palestinian people to freedom and justice. In this context, it should be emphasised that justice for the Palestinians requires a comprehensive solution leading to an independent and viable Palestinian state on Palestinian national soil.
Jordan, as a supporter of our Palestinian brothers, needs to continue to lead Arab and regional efforts, while at the same time keeping its internal front strong and coherent. Therefore, we should look closely at the reform efforts that Jordan is witnessing, especially at the political level. A recent World Affairs Council paper raised central questions on the practical steps to achieve reform, such as: What should follow Royal speeches on reform? What is expected of intellectuals and politicians? How do we work out a sound distribution of responsibilities and roles for the implementation of reforms?
This year, the reform roadmap is dominated by three clear end-game goals: holding free and fair parliamentary elections, under a law allowing for the highest degree of representation, so that the outcome would be a new Lower House with partisan orientations, leading eventually to representative parliamentary governments.
Everyone is called upon to work as a partner in this national process: the people as voters, political parties as competing political forces, and the legislative, judicial and executive branches as the authorities concerned with legislation, administration and supervision of the reform process.
Your role is pivotal in launching a dialogue that entrenches partisan and electoral culture, and revitalises partisan work and political action on the basis of modern platforms. You are the ones who have the vision and experience in this field.
Achieving reforms will protect Jordan against the chaos and instability witnessed by many around us in the region. The country will then set a model of home-grown, evolutionary and reform-based transformation.
I am confident that such ideas will trigger in-depth and productive discussions in this pioneering national institution.
I wish you all success, and thank you for your efforts.