King of Jordan

Speech made to the Assembly

Monday, 25 September 1995

Mr President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Mr President of the Committee of Ministers, Mr Secretary General, distinguished members of the Parliamentary Assembly, it is both a privilege and a pleasure to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It offers me the occasion to share my thoughts with you on the relations between Europe and my country, about what they have been and what we hope they will become in the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my good friend Miguel Angel Martinez, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, for inviting me to address this distinguished body and for his leadership and contribution to Euro-Mediterranean understanding.

Much has changed in the Middle East. In retrospect, the changes have been positive. Although the consequences of past events are still with us, there are new factors of maturity, realism, determination and vision which brighten our horizons.

When Jordan and Israel signed their peace treaty, we did not make peace only with Israel. We also made it with ourselves, confident in our belief that this was the only way we could break out of the cycle of violence (...)

It is perhaps too early to assess the impact of Europe on our region in the twentieth century. We are still experiencing the consequences of two devastating European wars and their repercussions on our lives. The major consequence of the first world war was a new map of our region drawn up by the victors. This map drew frontiers where there were none before, established a number of new states and disrupted patterns of economic, social and family life which had formed through four centuries of Ottoman rule.

In our case, the dislocation of our former status took the form of a separation between the two sides of the River Jordan which geographically and historically formed the Holy Land, and its political separation from its northern extensions to Lebanon and Syria was carried one step further with the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Into the former cohesion of our social, economic and cultural life was introduced a new element. Growing tensions between incoming settlers and the indigenous population led to war, the mass displacement of the Palestinian people and the festering of political and ideological extremism which has plagued the entire Middle East for decades.

My grandfather, King Abdullah, and my great- uncle, King Feisal of Syria and later Iraq, had hoped that the aspirations of the Arab inhabitants of the lands liberated during the great Arab revolt of 1916 and of the Jewish settlers in Palestine might be compatible provided certain conditions could be satisfied. This was not to be.

Rivalries and suspicions between the players in our region and the catastrophic situation of the Jews of Europe combined to end the dream of my forefathers. The unity of the Arab lands was frustrated and the Jewish state of Israel was born in violence.

This was the situation which I inherited when I acceded to the throne of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and which has challenged us for more than forty years. It was clear to me that my duty was to exert every possible effort to spare my people the suffering and cruelty of war and to bequeath them a legacy of peace.

On 26 October 1994, when Jordan and Israel signed their peace treaty, we did not make peace only with Israel. We also made it with ourselves, confident in our belief that this was the only way we could break out of the cycle of violence which has devastated our lands and our peoples.

Our vision and purpose in making peace with Israel was not just to end the state of war. The equation of “no war and no peace” which had defined the relations of Jordan and other Arab states with Israel for twenty-five years had proved futile. -

We decided to make a warm peace with Israel – a peace which makes it possible for our two peoples to breach the fears which separated them for too long, to do business, to make friends with each other if they wish, to benefit from what each has to offer and to work together to create a better life for themselves and for all those who live in the same region and share the same hopes.

The Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty marks the end of one period in our history and the dawning of another. It is the first step towards the restoration of harmony in the Holy Land, which God ordained but which man disrupted. The benefits to both parties are equally rewarding. Jordan, which had been virtually landlocked, now once again has access to the Mediterranean. Israel can now look beyond its previous confines to live in a region of peace.

In making peace with Israel, however, and in being determined to live with Israel on terms of mutual trust, security and co-operation, we did not forget or neglect the other vital component of the Holy Land – the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights in their own land. We believe that the Palestinian people have the same right, in this new era of peace, to enjoy the same security and the same hoped-for prosperity in their own land. We will continue to support them, as we have through all these years, in all their legitimate goals and activities.

The realisation of the Palestinians’ rights to self-determination, to return or compensation, and to a decent life are legitimate aims. We share with them many other concerns, such as access to water, the environment, and the settlement of the problem of their refugees and displaced populations. And we share with them, and not only with them, our concern for the future of Holy Jerusalem.

For members of the three Abrahamic faiths on every continent the old city of Jerusalem is the goal of pilgrims and a place of prayer. Mosques, churches and temples bear witness to the central place of the Holy City in the thoughts and visions of believers around the world.

It has always been our hope that Holy Jerusalem will be not a cause for conflict but a platform for reconciliation. Its history should never again be liberation for some and loss for others. Its rightful place in history is where the three faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam converge and where sovereignty is God’s alone.

I do not believe that the problem of Jerusalem presents an insurmountable difficulty. The greater city of Jerusalem can be the capital of both the state of Israel and Palestine. Jerusalem should be a shining symbol and the essence of peace for ever between Palestinians and Israelis, as well as all the followers of the three great monotheistic religions.

The Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty is, we hope, an historic step in the construction of a new era of peace in the Middle East. Our peace with Israel is comprehensive in so far as it removes all subjects of contention between us. Yet to be comprehensive on the scale of the whole region there is still a way to go.

Peace is not just the signing of treaties; the signatories must have a genuine commitment to all that peace implies: the free movement of people, goods and ideas across frontiers; the shared commitment to resolve common problems; and respect for one another’s interests.

There must be a consensus on common values, respect for human rights and basic freedoms, equality between all citizens, and, above all, the right of children to food, clothing, education and freedom from fear.

What is the real purpose of peace? In our view, it is to promote the security and prosperity of peoples. Without security there can be no assured prosperity; without prosperity there can be no assured security. In the modern history of the Middle East there have been many attempts to erect security systems and arrangements, either between external powers and regional states or between regional states themselves. None of these arrangements was effective in preventing wars and conflicts in the Middle East.

In the nightmare scenario between the invasion of Kuwait and the end of the war in the Gulf I did my best to convince the international community to help us to contain and solve the problem within an Arab context. I was not successful, and the sequence of events before, during and after the war confirmed my worst fears. The security of the supply of oil was, at least temporarily, assured, but the security of the region was seriously jeopardised. The continued destabilisation of Iraq does not contribute to stability and security of peace in the Middle East. On the contrary, it poses a serious threat to them all.

We cannot look on with indifference as the plight of the people of Iraq grows more and more tragic with every renewal of the Security Council’s imposition of sanctions. As their misery increases I cannot – nor can any Jordanian or other Arab family – sleep comfortably in bed with the spectre of the sick and hungry children of Iraq before our eyes.

I wish to state categorically, against all rumours, fears and speculation, that, as a Hashemite, I personally have no ambition in Iraq. Yet I can no longer turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the anguish and needs of the people of Iraq. They have been imprisoned for years by an international embargo and have endured for far too long the absence of democracy, pluralism and human rights.

All the Iraqi people and all Arab states, together with the international community, must join together to bring an end to all the causes of Iraqi suffering and denial, internally and externally.

I stand firmly for the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. I would encourage and support an immediate free dialogue between the credible representatives of the three major elements that comprise the people of Iraq – the Sunni and Shia Arabs and the Kurds – in order to achieve national reconciliation, which would remove the fears and suspicions that have shattered their relations and threatened their future. I would offer them all my support, and I implore them to engage in a serious dialogue to formulate a new constitution defining their respective aspirations and rights within the context of one country, Iraq, based on democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights.

Since 1948, Jordan has had to assume extraordinary burdens, such as three sudden and massive waves of refugees and the repeated disruption of our economy, which have severely strained our limited financial, social and institutional resources.

In the last quarter of 1995, an opportunity will be available to the governments and institutions of Europe to take part in the construction of a new Middle East. The Middle East/North Africa Summit to be held in Amman on 29 October will attempt to translate into concrete economic terms some of the ideas and aspirations of the Casablanca Economic Summit that preceded it last year.

A further window of opportunity will be the Barcelona conference scheduled for November – the main theme of which will be a Euro-Mediterranean partnership. We hope that the Barcelona conference, which Jordan will attend, will pay special attention to the countries of the eastern Mediterranean – an area that is the natural bridge between Europe and the Middle East. The conference can open a door for Europe into a region of vast natural resources and important markets, and it can open a window for our region on to the economic and financial landscape of Europe.

The choice of Amman for the 2nd Middle East/ North Africa Summit reflects a growing consensus among international institutions and business corporations that Jordan now offers a favourable location and climate for public funding and private investment in projects on both the Jordanian and general scene.

Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel paves the way for the emergence of a new and potentially powerful economic bloc that would include Palestine and Egypt. Projects involving the co-operation of those four entities will be presented at the Amman Summit. We hope that they will ultimately provide examples for other Middle East countries of the benefits of co-operative and integrated development and the tangible rewards of peace. Such a bloc would provide markets, manpower and technological resources that would attract not only European, American and Asian investment but some of the Arab capital, private and public, that now finds havens outside the region. Jordan will continue its endeavours to create a model of social, political and economic stability that we hope will serve as a positive example.

The Jordanian National Charter, ratified in 1991, reflects a Jordanian consensus for democracy, pluralism, basic freedoms, gender equity, human rights and a free market economy. Since the adoption of the charter successive Jordanian governments have sought to implement its tenets into the daily life of our people.

We have the ability, will and experience to generate from our own resources a momentum that will transform a developing country into a developed one and to set a dynamic example in our region. The support and investments that we seek are the sparks needed to drive our region’s great human potential.

Europe and our region are extensions of one another. We invite you to join us, to further and to deepen the ancient bonds between us, and together to build the better world that we seek.

As I leave you today, my friends, I am happy to announce that I am heading for the United States, at the invitation of President Clinton, to attend the ratification of yet another agreement between the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and the Prime Minister of Israel. That is truly another important breakthrough on the road to a comprehensive Middle East peace – the result of negotiations and commitment to the cause of peace. We praise the efforts of all who contributed to its achievement. On behalf of Queen Noor and the Prime Minister of Jordan, my colleagues and myself, I thank you all for your warm welcome.

Thank you and God bless your worthy endeavours. (Applause)


Thank you, your Majesty. The first question will be put by Mr Giiner of Turkey.

Mr GÜNER (Turkey)

Your Majesty, you referred in your excellent speech to the situation in Iraq. What sort of government or state should take shape in Iraq, to take into account the three elements that you mentioned, and in what way could your country contribute to the restoration of democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights in that country?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

Thank you for the opportunity to elaborate on my earlier remarks. We are deeply concerned that a country that has suffered so long may continue to suffer, heading towards, heaven forbid, an even more bitter end in the form of an explosive situation and a bloodbath brought about by fears between the three basic elements that form Iraq, or by despair, which might bring about the country’s disintegration. The degree of suffering of the Iraqi people is obvious to us and I am sure to Turkey. Every effort should be made by all of us, the Iraqis themselves, Arab states and Arab leaders and the international community to bring an end to the suffering internally and externally.

Iraq is potentially a rich country. That has been true throughout history. It is the land of two rivers. It has energy resources that the world needs. It has a dynamic people.

What has gone wrong is the absence of democracy; the absence of people sharing and shaping their future; the absence of pluralism concerning the rights of people and obviously the absence of respect for human rights. I have become more aware of late of the degree to which matters have deteriorated in Iraq and that is why I have made my suggestions. I believe only the Iraqis themselves can determine exactly what their hopes and aspirations are in terms of the three basic elements that comprise Iraq. They can only do that through dialogue – dialogue by credible representatives of those three elements under conditions of freedom – which will somehow enable them to achieve national reconciliation and bring an end to the suffering of the Iraqi people.

As you all know, for a number of years we and our Palestinian brethren have been talking about a possible confederation, but only -if conditions permit it in the future. That can only happen if the people are free on the Palestinian side in terms of their land and their right to express themselves in order to make such a choice. That can only happen as a result of our having a similar feeling and inclination in Jordan. But if a confederation is good enough for Jordan and Palestine, which are the closest in this Arab family, maybe a confederation in Iraq might be the answer for the Iraqi people. Maybe there is hope that the armed forces of Iraq will then respect only the new Constitution of Iraq and be the instrument for the defence of Iraq and its future and the shield for the hopes of the Iraqi people.

The problem is there and I believe that if we all work towards achieving a solution and helping the people of Iraq who are my main concern, and, I am sure, yours, maybe this nightmare will not be with us for much longer.


Thank you very much. Do you want to put a supplementary question, Mr Giiner?


No, I am satisfied with that reply. May I express my gratitude to you, Your Majesty, and I am pleased to see you at the Assembly.

Mr DE LIPKOWSKI (France) (translation)

Your Majesty, your speech is indeed that of the courageous statesman and man of peace for whom we all feel a profound respect here.

I too should like to speak of Iraq, if I may ask Your Majesty to expand further on the matter. You granted asylum to General Kamel. You have had talks with him. Is it what he has told you that makes you so pessimistic about Iraq’s future? You seem to fear destabilisation rather than national reconciliation...

Is the latest information on weapons programmes supplied by Baghdad complete in your opinion, and could it lead to the lifting of the embargo?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

Thank you very much indeed for the opportunity to answer your question and for your kind words. Yes, recent events and the seeking of refuge by Lieutenant General Hussein Kamel in Jordan, together with his family and other members of his party, had a profound effect upon me. It meant I heard first hand from a highly placed member of the Iraqi Government and indeed of the presidential family, about conditions in Iraq. He was involved in military armaments during the eight long years of war with Iran and the successes there in bringing together brilliant Iraqi brains to serve their country. He was involved with the formation of the republican guard, the special guard and security. He played a role in the aftermath of the war and the reconstruction of the infrastructure of the country, but, more importantly, he was close to the decisionmaking apparatus in Iraq. His view of the suffering of the people of Iraq drove him to seek refuge in Jordan because Jordan has always supported the people of Iraq. His experiences shook me beyond words. One had heard much of what is happening there, but to have a clearer picture from someone that close, who was driven to despair because of his lack of ability to influence matters in a different way, hurt deeply.

In any event, the people of Iraq have suffered and are suffering beyond words. They are suffering from the seige and the embargo and they are suffering the denial of many of their basic human rights.

As for the revelation about weapons of mass destruction, I believe that the world now has a clear picture of what was available or planned and maybe this is something that can be moved off the list of demands made of Iraq. I hope that that will be done soon.

Tragically, Sir, I believe that what has been absent throughout the crisis since 1990 and until this day’s dialogue – first of all dialogue with the Iraqis in terms of their leadership and then even dialogue among ourselves, among friends and the international community – has been an idea about what to do and how to bring an end to that situation and save the people of Iraq. That is why I wanted to make our position very clear and to offer some suggestions. Whenever people do not matter and do not have a stake or feel that they have a share in shaping their future, problems will continue to occur – be it in our part of the world or anywhere else. Somehow a transformation from where we are to where we should be must be achieved in the time ahead. The continuing suffering of Iraq from strangulation from without and because of conditions as they are within must be brought to an end. Thank you.

Mr ALEXANDER (United Kingdom)

Your Majesty, thank you for your interesting speech and for your courtesy in agreeing as head of state to take questions from our Assembly.

I had the privilege to visit Jordan recently and I understand that on 23 August in a television broadcast you took a stronger line than previously against the Iraqi regime. Of course your country is in favour of the abolition of the United Nations sanctions. Although I accept your difficulties as a neighbour of Iraq, would not the abolition of sanctions merely prolong the rule of Saddam Hussein and enable his rule of terror and repression against his own people to continue for much longer?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

Thank you, Mr Alexander, for your question and particularly for your appreciation in respect of a head of state taking questions. Over the years, I have become a man of many traits. It is a privilege to be here and to be able to answer your question.

I do not know how in the English language I can make it more clear that my concern has always been for the people of Iraq – not the regime, not the individuals. My concern is for the people of Iraq – their future, their suffering.

As I explained earlier, I tried, after the very major error committed by Iraq in occupying Kuwait, to cause a reversal of that action and within the Arab context to resolve that problem. I have never been for the occupation or annexation of Kuwait. I have spoken time and again of the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by force. It is an element of the United Nations charter which we have respected and addressed at all times when problems have occurred – that includes our support to our British friends during the Falklands problem – because it is a principle in which we believe.

You will notice from what I have said, I hope, that I have put two things equally before you: external pressure and internal injustice, and the need to address both – the need for Iraq to break out of both and the need for the Iraqi people to be part of the world.

Iraq was a founding member of the United Nations. Iraq, in the context of the region, peace and a better future for the area, would be a tremendous asset. The Iraqi people need help. All I am saying is that, to arrive there, we in the Arab world should get over our suspicions of each other. I have admitted before you, and I will continue to state categorically, that I have no ambitions personally in Iraq. There was a union between our countries when King Feisal, who was killed with his family in 1958, was ruler. What happened after that is a thing of the past. Our family has given martyrs throughout Arab history – that was their fate.

I hope that it is clear that I have no ambition there, no objective there, except to see that country recover. Gentlemen, ladies, excuse my saying so, but over the past few days we have heard of Iraqis being driven to the point of selling their own organs to provide some food and sustenance for their children; I believe that is something that we cannot tolerate much longer. In the same way, we cannot tolerate the injustice, hardship, cruelty and denial of human rights that persist in Iraq.

If we put our minds together, if we develop consensus on what should be done, if we rise in our region above questions of who wins and who loses, if Iraq is healthy and not sick, all of us will win. It is important also for the rest of the world that our area become more stable and that Iraq become an element of stability in the area rather than continue to be what it is right now.

Mr PAVLIDIS (Greece)

I would like, first, to welcome you. I hope that you will accept my congratulations for the effort that you have made over a long time towards peace in your whole area.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe formed an ad hoc committee under the chairmanship of Mr Martinez which, with the support of the Greek Parliament, organised on the island of Rhodes – from which I come – a meeting between representatives from the Israeli and Palestinian Parliaments to discuss the possibility of our Organisation actively contributing to the process for the implementation of the Middle East peace treaty.

At that meeting, all the participants concluded that the Council of Europe, with its potential and long experience in respect of the democratic institution of human rights, could help the two sides in the consolidation of these values in the region – of course, within the framework of the peace treaty.

Do you believe, Your Majesty, that such an involvement could be a decisive factor in establishing permanent peace and co-operation between Israelis and Palestinians? How can your country co-operate with the Council of Europe to achieve that target?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

Thank you very much. I am sure that, as a result of the recent great achievement of the new accord, much progress will be forthcoming. That includes the possibility of elections in the very near future in the West Bank and Gaza and all the territories that fall under the control of the Palestinian representation, the sole legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people.

Our work has several dimensions. We are working closely with our Palestinian brethren to see how we can move ahead and address problems of mutual interest. We are working beyond that in a free way with Israel. We are also working with Egypt. There are various threads in which all of us are involved in trying to contribute to a vision of what the future should be and what opportunities peace presents in our entire region.

As for our co-operation, I hope that it will continue and develop. We are very much a part of everything constructive in terms of a better future for the peoples of the region and the world.


I congratulate you, Your Majesty, on your speech, which was full of wisdom, moderation and pacific attitudes. Your speech reflects the pacific attitude which you have followed for more than thirty years. Let me think in international terms. King Hussein has been everywhere in the region where there has been trouble and he has shown a pacific attitude and been a troubleshooter. In this context, Your Majesty, let me ask one question; you spoke about this matter in your speech but I think that we need more elaboration: how do you see the future of the co-existence of all the states in the region?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

Looking at our friends here today, I recall my visit to the European Parliament and the impressions that have remained with me since that time. What has been achieved is what we seek to achieve. My hope and prayer at that time was that, if I lived long enough, I would one day be able to address another parliament, representative of Arab democracies and all Arab states – and that if I did not, somebody would enjoy doing so before too long. That is the hope before us, which is achievable with determination and vision. I certainly hope that we will achieve it. Relations in the Arab world should be based on mutual respect, noninterference in each other’s affairs and co-operation wherever possible. We very much want to enhance that process.

We all understand that we cannot stop the clock or turn it back. People everywhere have rights, and it is our duty, as leaders, to pave the way for them to assume those rights and exercise them. Democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights is the way to do that. We need to create institutions where people can share in shaping their future truly and honestly. That will give the best guarantee of continued stability and progress and a better understanding not only among Arabs, but anywhere and everywhere in the world.

Thank you very much my friend. I hope that I have answered your question.

Mr BAUMEL (France) (translation)

Your Majesty, just a few hours before Palestinians and Israelis are to sign an historic agreement, might I ask you how you envisage relations between the future Palestinian entities and your kingdom.

How quickly can practical steps be taken to implement the idea which you have long championed, and which you mentioned briefly in your address, of a Palestinian and Jordanian confederation? What would the institutional basis be for such an arrangement: would it be a confederation, a federation or a more flexible union? On what economic and social resources and what energies would it be based?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

The answer in my mind is clear. It has been very difficult to argue for one type of co-operation between one brethren and another. There has been an absence of freedom, democracy, elections and representation, so the people have not had the opportunity to express their wishes. Any representation by us on how we see the future relationship might be counterproductive. Quite honestly, our Palestinian brethren are the closest to us – and we are closest to them – of all Arabs. That is the result of our history, geography, life and human suffering. They have yearned to have their say about their future and they have striven to recover their rights and their land. That is now coming about and the relationship between our two countries, our two peoples, is unique. In the context of peace we are talking about a different region from that which is now suffering from the pangs of war. On the Palestinian-Jordanian level, in time we will find the best answers when people are free and able to concentrate on the form this relationship should take.

What I seek – and this refers to something I said earlier – is something that does not belong to individuals, which does not remain the question of a future tied to the survival of any one individual. All my life I have tried to get Jordanians to share in the shaping of Jordan and in making the decisions that have to be made. I hope that I will succeed in that. Indeed, I believe that, to a large extent, I already have. Without democracy, without people joining in and shaping their future freely, I do not believe that Jordan would have survived. We have taken difficult stands. We have adopted policies that may not have been understood at the time, but we came together, to know each other, to take pride in ourselves and in our freedom, pride in our ability to express ourselves, to work together and to build our country.

I hope that the same will happen within the Palestinian dimensions and that progress will be made. I am sure it will be made everywhere in the Arab world and that eventually it will be the Arab world that proves itself worthy of every Arab and a source of pride to all.

As for the Palestinians in Jordan, we do not differentiate; they are all citizens in the country of Jordan. There is an area, where some people went after 1967, which will have to be dealt with in a particular way. We have already made arrangements and have carried out negotiations between Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians on the subject. As for the rest, they are people of Jordan with the same rights as all Jordanians. They will continue to enjoy those rights fully until such time as any of them has another opportunity to make another choice. That is their right.

We are all one family in Jordan and will continue to be so. We will work to help our Palestinian brethren recover their rights and we will help to sort out the problems between them and the Israelis. We will use the credibility we have within Israel itself as a result of our direct dialogue and the successes we have achieved to help to create a peaceful Middle East and a better future for all its peoples in the time ahead.

Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom)

Your Majesty, in your absolutely excellent and inspiring address this afternoon, which showed great foresight, you implied that no one religion or country should have the overall custody of those places in the old city of Jerusalem that are holy to three religions.

My question Your Majesty – and I am sure that I will not need a supplementary – is whether you would support the proposals that provide for the internationalisation of the old city, possibly along the lines of the so-called Vatican plan, as part of a final outcome to the peace process?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

I want to present my views as clearly as possible. I believe that they are as worthy as the reception they receive. That is my view. I believe that more people are listening in the world. I believe that the Holy City – the old city of Jerusalem – should not fall under the sovereignty of anyone, but should all the followers of the three great religions equally. Those followers should have full rights in that city to what is dear and precious to them. The city should become the essence and symbol of peace. I firmly believe that the followers will eventually find peace, respect each other’s rights and desist from fighting over the sovereignty of the city, as sovereignty should be left only to God. The right formula will be found if there is an end to divisions, if we learn from the lessons of history and if we are determined never to repeat the mistakes of the past. That is as far as the Holy City of Jerusalem is concerned.

As for the rest of the city, the west side is the de facto capital of Israel while the east side is occupied. I do not see why it should not be possible for both parts to become the capital of Palestinians and Israelis alike. That could be another element in the route to true peace within the immediate region and between all followers of the three religions.

Mr MARUFLU (Turkey)

Your Majesty, on behalf of the Turkish delegation I would like to thank you very much for giving us this opportunity with your presence in this Assembly to keep in touch with your country, to which my country has geographical proximity. I would like to take this opportunity to express my satisfaction at the excellent relations which exist between our two countries. I assure you that you and your family are greatly admired in Turkey.

I had prepared questions which related to Iraq, but in replying to previous colleagues you have answered most of them. How do you view the future of the Saddam Hussein regime in the light of recent developments?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

I think that I have answered that question. I share with you and with other friends concern for the people of Iraq, the country’s future and its role within the region. I want to see peace, prosperity and progress in Iraq.

With regard to relations between Jordan and Turkey and between the Arab world and Turkey, we are proud of what exists between us and I hope that within the region we will always have the same views and the same approach to resolving any problems which exist or which may occur.

Mr IWINSKI (Poland)

My question is of a more genera] character. Your Majesty, the ideas of pan- Arabism and of the pan-Islamic movement have changed over the decades. How would you estimate those changes at present? In this context, what is your opinion on the contemporary role of the League of Arab States and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

I referred earlier to pan-Arabism. I believe our approach should be the approach that you have all taken here in Europe. Relations should be based on complementarity, respect for each other and the coming together of democracies. People should be free to make their choices and live in an era of stability in the region in the times ahead.

As far as relations between the Arab and Islamic worlds are concerned, Islam was born in the Arab world and our relations are those of very close brethren. With all due respect to the organisations to which you referred, more must and should be achieved in the future. All of us hope that the 50th anniversary of the United Nations will show us whether the UN reflects the events of today as opposed to those which existed fifty years ago, and will make it more relevant to the needs of today. The same should apply to the Arab League which is as old as the UN, and I am full of hope and optimism.

Despair, anger and violence can result from the actions of those who seek power, and from poverty and a lack of progress in achieving people’s basic rights to live, to feel secure and to count for something. I believe that Islam offers so much and that what happens sometimes and is attributed to Islam is actually a contradiction to Islam. True Islam would not tolerate the conditions which bring about such acts. Islam would not condone them in any form.

As a Muslim, a Hashemite and an Arab, I feel hurt by the stereotyping which sometimes occurs following those acts, but worse than that, I feel – as a true Muslim – angry at what I see as a great contradiction of Islam. I hope that we will get over that in time and that soon there will be an understanding throughout the world of what Islam truly means.

Mr SOLE TURA (Spain)

In your address, Your Majesty, you mentioned the conference to be held in Barcelona in November. I believe that it would be a mistake to view the conference as exclusively a matter for Mediterranean peoples. I would therefore beg you to enlarge on your expectations for the conference. In particular, what is your opinion of the role in it of European non-Mediterranean countries?

His Majesty, King of Jordan

Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question. I am obviously looking forward to the conference, to further relations and ties between our region and Europe. The two parts of the Mediterranean – the Arab and the European – are neighbours. We are linked by many interests, concerns and hopes for the future. I fully support efforts to explore all possibilities to the fullest possible extent.


Thank you, Your Majesty. That brings to an end a very moving part of our work here. In my four years as President I have had many privileges, and this is certainly one of them – listening to you and watching my colleagues. They are solid, experienced politicians in their respective parliaments and they listened to you with quite extraordinary concentration, as did the Ambassadors present from forty countries.

This has been a great moment and it has been moving indeed to see the Ambassadors and your friends and ministers – not to mention your Queen – looking at you with pride. Several times today you called us your friends. I and my friends here are proud of that; my colleagues, by virtue of the solidarity that they continue to express with you and your people, deserve to be called your friends.

Our Assembly would like to give you its pro merito medal. Several of our distinguished guests have already received it, and none have deserved it more than you. Your name and today’s date are carved on the medal. Sometimes we present these medals at lunch or in my office but I wanted to give it to you publicly so that my colleagues could join me in doing so.

(The President then presented His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan with the pro merito medal of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.)