Before the Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of South American and Arab Countries
Lima, Republic of Peru
2 October 2012
In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate
Your Excellency President Humala,
Thank you. May I take this opportunity to extend my deep appreciation to the President, the government and people of Peru, for your generous hospitality and warm welcome.
This is the third Summit of South American and Arab Countries. Who are we?
We are one in ten of Earth's people - including more than 200-million young men and women, who need and deserve their rightful share of global opportunity, and a voice in shaping our world.
Who are we? We are key, geo-strategic regions, connecting every continent. We are vital to global recovery and prosperity ... vital to global security and peace ... and vital to the fate of this planet.
Who are we? We are brothers and sisters, with a long shared history - and a future that can bring our people even more, if our partnership is strong.
Let me say, both our regions can be proud ... as I am ... of the many contributions to South America's achievements by citizens of Arab descent. That our peoples should come together in this way should not surprise anyone. Our societies bring to the crossroads their own great cultures, which we must celebrate and sustain. But our people, all our people, also meet on common ground: the powerful values we share: respect for human dignity and equality ... a fierce commitment to justice ... and hands outstretched in peace.
We have work to do. For too long, too many of our people have met adversity. Developing countries wherever they stood on the ladder of economic growth - all felt the shockwaves of global economic crises. In the Middle East, hardship and frustration helped trigger an outcry for reform, the Arab Spring. But our people are not alone in their demand for a better future. All of our countries are being called on to take effective action to meet the needs of our citizens.
It begins at home. Today, in my region, different paths will be taken, but the challenge is shared: to address national problems; to include those who have been excluded; and, urgently, to create opportunity, especially for young people.
In Jordan, we have seized the opportunity to accelerate our path towards comprehensive, consensus-based reform. We are building the political-party system that is the backbone of parliamentary government. We will elect a new parliament by the beginning of next year, and the next government will stem from the emerging parliament.
In economic terms, we are moving forward with policies that support inclusive, sustainable growth and the meaningful jobs our young people need. Indeed, despite limited natural resources, Jordan has the national assets for success - a central position as a global and regional hub; moderation and stability; highly educated, top-ranked human resources; a firm commitment to enterprise, international partnership and innovation.
But my friends, today's challenges cannot be met simply by national action. Only when we act together, can we fulfil our regions' potential ... and help ensure the inclusive global agenda we need. For this, even deeper cooperation is essential, within and between our two regions, and in the global arena.
In economic terms, regions like ours are positioned to advance. After the global economic downturn, trade among developing countries made an above-average recovery. By 2010, South-South trade was 23 per cent of all world trade. Rising capital flows, like those between the Middle East and South America, also have new impact.
The gains from such trade and investment are clear. Our partnership opens gateways to regional markets and global supply chains ... and boosts our resiliency against external shocks. Interlinking our comparative strengths brings the kind of economic efficiency that creates jobs instead of destroying them. For the Arab and South American countries, there is great potential in sectors such as ICT, energy, agriculture, water resources, transportation, tourism, and more.
I hope this distinguished gathering, and other dialogues, will help us find new mechanisms to enhance cooperation, reduce barriers, and drive reciprocal trade and investment. Much has already been achieved through the framework of these Summits, from Brasilia, to Doha, and now here in Lima. Working together, we can help channel a grand partnership - not just governments, not just regional and international forums, but private sectors, NGOs, academic and cultural leaders, and citizens. Jordan stands ready to play its part.
Our Summit also provides a framework for vital political coordination. At the heart of this is peace in my region. The tectonic changes in the Arab world must not shift attention away from the central issue of our future: the continued denial of Palestinians' right to a sovereign and independent state. This continued injustice contributes directly to global and regional turmoil. And it stands as a bar to a stable, forward-looking era of region wide cooperation. Resolving this conflict is Jordan's number-one foreign-policy priority.
In this effort, the role of South American countries is pivotal, and I thank you for your support.
South America's respected voice is also needed in the global effort to stop the bloodshed in Syria. Violence must end and transition must begin. Our goal must be to restore security and stability, and preserve the territorial integrity of Syria, the unity and dignity of its people. We in Jordan feel our neighbours' suffering, and are now hosting two hundred thousand Syrians who crossed the border to escape the violence. We have opened our arms to our brothers and sisters in need, as we have always done. But the burden on national resources has been extreme, especially at this time of economic hardship. To continue shouldering this responsibility, we need international assistance ... and I am grateful for your support in this important humanitarian cause.
The challenges ahead are real. To reach our goals, to create the future our people deserve, we must use all our capabilities. I congratulate all those who have worked over the years to make these Summits so effective. It is teamwork that will multiply our strength ... help us level the playing field ... give us a voice in writing the global rules ... and deliver success.
And to the question, ‘who are we,’ my answer is this: we are a people connected by history ... sharing a future ... and working together to succeed. We are a team.
Thank you very much.