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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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H.M. Husein I, King of Jordan

Prince of Asturias Award for Concord 1995

Your Majesty,
Your Royal Highness, the Prince of Asturias,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is always a great pleasure for me to be in Spain, a country that has always had a special place in my heart; a country of old and cherished friends.

I thank you all for being here today to share this proud moment with me

The Prince of Asturias Concord Award has a special meaning for me.

Today, here, in Asturias, the birthplace of the Reconquista, a Muslim Arab leader is being honoured in the name of peace, for it was in Spain that the three great abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam fused together to produce a unique heritage.

This heritage of faith, knowledge and culture has radiated from Spain to Europe and the New World beyond.

There are many valuable lessons to be drawn from Spain's rich history. The seeds of human ingenuity were nurtured by tolerance and peaceful co-existence. This remarkable era produced great men and women who, until this day, remain a source of inspiration and pride to all mankind.

Among them are the venerable Jewish mystic Ibn Maimun, known as Maimonedes, physician to Salah Al-din and son of Toledo, and the Christian scholar Ramón Llul, who wrote in the Arabic language. And even our greatest saint, Ibn Arabi of Murcia, a universal man who understood the real unity of all creation.

We can thus be proud that in Muslim Spain, the ancient Jewish community of Toledo thrived, and the bells of the churches of Al-Andalus never stopped ringing.

Together, the Muslims, Christians and Jews of Spain produced a dynamic intracultural society. But all of this cannot adequately explain the high regard and deep affection that we have for Spain. It is the Spain of today that earns its special place in our hearts.

The momentous and smooth transformation that Spain has undergone, under the wise and courageous leadership of my dear friend and brother, His Majesty King Juan Carlos, has earned the respect and admiration of my people and the world at large. Spain's steadfast commitment to the principles of democracy, political pluralism and respect for human rights points the way to the future.

It was therefore altogether appropriate that Madrid should host the 1991 Middle East Peace Conference. The peace negotiations that ensued culminated in the Treaty of Peace between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Israel -signed one year ago yesterday. Together with the Oslo I and Oslo II Accords, between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Israel, we have laid, God willing, the solid foundations for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

It is my sincere hope that for our children and grandchildren, the name of Madrid will be synonymous with that of peace.

Your Majesty,
Your Royal Highness, the Prince of Asturias,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

To dwell in the enmity of the past is to dwell in darkness. Instead, we must choose life! This is the path that Jordan has chosen; the path of stability, of hope, of dreams for a better future for generations to come.

For nearly fifty years our people have struggled and sacrificed, but now is the time to build anew; a world where all peoples have the chance to live a life of dignity and security.

Their voices must be heard. Their opinions must count and they must live in a just society.

Indeed, for us in Jordan, our unshakeable commitment to peace is but a complement to our equally unshakeable commitment to democracy, political pluralism and respect for human rights.

Yet there remains much work to be done, the peace that we have forged must be nurtured, sustained and defended. This defence requires not so much guns, tanks and aircraft, but schools, jobs and hope. The bedrock of stability and genuine security lies in economic prosperity and the closing of the gap between the wealthy and the less fortunate.

It is here that Europe must play a role, for now is the hour of Europe. I do not speak of north against south, but rather of partners that share in the legacy of the rich and varied cultures of the Mediterranean region. We seek to release the great energies and potential of our peoples.

We are aware that in order to achieve sustainable economic growth, the private sector must be allowed to operate freely, so that domestic and foreign investments may generate the spark that will drive the war weary economies of the Middle East.

To this end, we will be hosting, two days from now in Amman, the Middle East and North Africa Economic Summit. The private and public sectors of sixty countries, as well as numerous organisations, will come together to review and adopt development projects that will benefit all the peoples of our region and beyond.

Building on this, the Amman summit will shortly be followed by the Barcelona Conference, which will bring together businesses from both sides of the Mediterranean in order to fulfil and explore joint projects in trade and industry.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to my fellow recipients of the Prince of Asturias Concord Prize, particularly our partners in peace-building, President Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Their courage, determination and commitment to peace are shining examples of just what can be achieved if one is willing to cast suspicion and hatred aside.

I thank you, once again, Your Royal Highness for the Award that you bestow on me today, this Peace Award. I have the honour to accept it in the name of my Jordanian family, my people.

I would like to thank you, Your Majesty and His Majesty King Juan Carlos for your gracious hospitality and hope that Noor and I my very soon welcome you both, again, to Jordan.

I pray that Almighty God my bless you all, and grant us every success in fulfilling the responsibility with which we have been entrusted.

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