The 1995 Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Economic Conference further reinforced Jordans regional and international profile. The annual conference aims to put MENA countries in contact with regional and international businessmen, as well as to create awareness and promote investment in the countries of the region. In hosting the event, Jordan proved extremely successful in its ability to plan and organize a conference involving approximately 1000 corporate leaders, 600 journalists and numerous dignitaries and policymakers.
In this speech, King Hussein explains the linkage between a just and comprehensive peace, and prosperity for the peoples of the region. Specifically, issues of environmental protection, water resources and infrastructural development must be addressed on a regional level, and the key to unlocking the door to cooperation lies in a climate of peace. Likewise, peace must be nurtured by promoting tangible and positive changes in the standards of living for all.
Address to the Middle East and North Africa Economic Summit
October 29, 1995
(Translated from the original Arabic)
I am happy to welcome you all, in the name of the people and government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and to express our pride to host this conference, which comes as a continuation of the work which we started in the last economic summit held in Casablanca last year. The objectives which we hope to achieve are to revitalize the process of development in this region, and to improve the standard of living of its peoples, who have suffered the consequences of continuous conflict and tension throughout the past century.
This region witnessed many forms of the conflict and international rivalry that accompanied the cold war. When this war was over, and the opportunity became ripe to bring peace to the Middle East, we went to Madrid to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of international legitimacy, as embodied in Resolutions 242 and 338. Our efforts were crowned with success when we signed the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty, which we hope will be the launching pad for comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the whole region. But the peace which we seek must be accompanied by sincere and persistent efforts in social and economic development, so that the peoples of the region may overcome the negative effects of decades of conflict, and realize the importance of peace through tangible and positive change in their standards of living.
We are fully aware that regional cooperation between all countries should be based on complementarity and justice, so that the region may enjoy greater harmony, and fewer disparities in the levels of development among its countries. This harmony would only reinforce social and our ability to eliminate the root causes of future insecurity.
We are also fully aware that regional cooperation between the peoples of the Middle East must be in the framework of active and positive interaction with the world economy. If the countries of the region have taken advanced steps towards a partnership between Europe and the Middle East, this is due to the historic and cultural ties between our region and Europe. It does not suggest in any way that this partnership should be at the expense of our participation in, and interaction with, the world economy.
It is worthy of mention at this point, that the countries of the region have already initiated their cooperation, which is based on clear foundations, in three areas: the environment, water, and the infrastructure. Concerning the environment, everybody realizes that national policies for the protection of the environment are ineffective in the absence of regional coordination. The countries of the region are so closely intertwined geographically and demographically that it is impossible for any party to live in isolation of its surroundings. Concerning water, cooperation in this field is a vital necessity dictated by the nature of our region, which suffers a shortage of this basic life-supporting resource. This situation demands creative thinking in order to preserve and develop our sources of water. As for the infrastructure, all efforts must be concentrated on developing a continuous infrastructural network to achieve complementarity between the countries of the region, and foster cooperation among them, in order to create a climate that attracts investment in all fields.
The international community is able to contribute to the rehabilitation of the economies of the region at minimum cost. To achieve this result, there should be a clear and common outlook for the future which we seek for the region, in partnership and through cooperation with the international community. Each one of us will have a distinctive role to play in making our sub-region and active participant in the regional and world economies.
We in Jordan have worked diligently to liberate the economy and to create a healthy environment that attracts local and foreign investments. We have boosted this by releasing the powers of human creativity, and assuring full freedom of expression and participation in the decision-making process. Our starting point in these reforms was our conviction that the total stability of the national economy is the fundamental condition for achieving balanced sustainable growth. We have achieved this stability by virtue of fiscal and monetary policies which aimed at controlling government expenditure, limiting the budget deficit, stabilizing the exchange rate of the Dinar, and preventing inflation from obstructing our economic progress. We have also implemented a policy package which aims at promoting savings, encouraging investment, and activating the private sector, so it can contribute to the process of development, the creation of new opportunities for employment, and raising the level of economic growth. In addition, we have worked assiduously to develop our human resources, which have been central to improving the standard of living in our society. They have contributed also to the development of other countries in the region, through the expertise and qualifications which they made available to these countries. We have sought to rectify the relationship between the public and private sectors in Jordan, to make it one of partnership and complementarity between their roles. In this relationship the public sector lays down the foundations of an investment-attractive environment, and the organizational framework that permits the private sector to invest in projects that include the infrastructure. Comprehensive reform should not be limited to high leadership. It should include those at the forefront in administration, the economy and the law.
In the past few months, the Jordanian parliament ratified a number of new economic laws that aim to make the investment climate in Jordan stable and full of promise and opportunities. You will be able to familiarize yourselves closely with these opportunities in the course of this conference.
We are fully aware that consolidating peace and stability is linked to the achievement of comprehensive economic and social development. We are also aware that peace and prosperity cannot prevail except in an atmosphere of justice, freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, and the supremacy of the law. Based on this firm conviction, we shall continue our diligent efforts to ingrain these concepts in our society, until Jordan becomes an example of the commitment to these noble objectives.
In cooperation with our colleagues in the steering committee of the Amman summit, which held the last of its meetings yesterday evening, we have worked to prepare the declaration of Amman, which we hope will be ratified by this conference. We hope that it will be an advanced step towards the rehabilitation of the regional economies, in a spirit of cooperation, confidence, and hope.
Once again I welcome you all to Amman, and I thank all those who have contributed to the preparations for this economic conference, particularly the World Economic Forum, and the steering committee of the conference.
May God help us to achieve that which brings benefit to our peoples, and may God bless you all.
Address to the Middle East/North Africa Economic Summit
October 29, 1995