HH The Emir of State of QATAR Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani opened the seventh Doha Conference on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, at Ritz-Carlton-Doha, which is also being attended by 600 delegates from 71 countries, consisting of political leaders, diplomats, intellectuals, academicians, businessmen and media personnel.
They included Finland President Tarja Halonen, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, leader of the UK House of Commons Jack Straw, Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa, former Lebanese premier Dr Saleem al-Hoss, and former president of South Africa F W de Klerk. HH Sheikha Mozah Nasser al-Misnad and Prime Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani The Qatari prime Minister and ministers were also present. The event has attracted a large participation from the US Congress and the UK House of Commons as well as Arab, Asian and African business leaders.
Hundreds of other diplomats, academics, and professionals from around the world also attended and held discussions.
Four Detroit-area Arab Americans attended, including former Dearborn mayoral candidate and Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Abed Hammoud, publisher of "The Arab American News" Osama Siblani, President of the Bint Jebail Cultural Center Naim Bazzi, and Vice President of the Arab American and Chaldean Council, Dr. Radwan Khouri.
H.H. the emir sheikh hamad bin khalifa al thani and h.h. sheikha moza bint nasser al misned sponsored opening of doha 7th forum on democracy, development and free trade at ritz carlton hotel in the ritz carlton hotel - doha, today 23 april 18:30 evening.
following the unofficial translation of the address of his highness sheikh hamad bin khalifa al thani, emir of the state of qatar
in the name of god, the most compassionate, the most merciful your excellencies,
ladies and gentlemen,
i welcome you all to the doha forum on democracy, development and free trade in its seventh session. since its 1st session, your forum has passed through a period of time which, i consider enough to review the progress of the basic issues with which the forum is concerned.
i start with democracy where the interest in its development in our region has grown during the past few years. the hope was that the region would make up for the time it missed and make a shortcut to catch up with the global march to freedom. but you know that what has been achieved so far is not up the aspired level. of late, there has even been a sort of lassitude and slackness in pushing forward the reform process with the pretext that the conditions in the region do not allow. no two persons would disagree that the prevalent circumstances in the middle east are still highly sensitive and complicated.
however, that is not a justification for evading the democratic process. the region had previously experienced the deferring, if not freezing, comprehensive reform for many years, using all kinds of pretexts until its problems piled up and its crises increased. therefore, it should not make the same mistake again under the false impression that the relative abatement in the international concern about the advancement of democracy in the area would bring things back to their previous stagnation.
the greatest mistake, in my judgment, is to subject the progress toward democracy or retreat from it to messages coming to the region from abroad, or to the degree of external interest in its affairs, or to external pressures put upon it. this is an immature conception that ignores the free will of the people and their right to live a sound political life where freedoms are respected and where all people enjoy all rights, on top of which is the right to participation in public affairs.
ladies and gentlemen, any review of the democratic process in our region has to probe into the causes that led to its slowness and delay. first, i would like to refute any call trying to attribute that to the culture of the region which is based on the teachings of islam: those sublime teachings which instruct their followers to be forgiving, urge them to be tolerant, make shura and the rendering of advice obligatory, and stress the sanctity of human rights. we all know that these principles are the core of democratic practice.
moreover, if some in the west have slacken or given up their support to the democratic project in the region, yet that will not dissuade its peoples from that project nor will it become a thwarting factor to their right to popular participation, because people are always responsible for their destinies. we should not forget that some in our region have paid a very high price to achieve political and social reform, and gave all that was dear and precious long before the outside world showed its interest in this issue.
it is therefore unjust to imagine that reform does move only under foreign influence. and what took place recently in mauritania is a clear evidence to this. in this connection, i would like to take the occasion to extend congratulations to our brothers in mauritania on the success of the military council for justice and democracy in transferring power in a democratic way to a civilian government through free elections that respected the will of the people and their right to participation.
the main reason for the democratic incapacity, in my view, ladies and gentlemen, is due to the lack of correct understanding of reform, which must be comprehensive and deep and not partial nor intermittent. there can be no economic reform without political reform, which must be supported and guided by social reform.
in my view, reform is not a list of options from which we choose, nor a collection of issues some of which can be deleted or deferred. the success of political reform is correlated to the success of social reform, because democracy, like any political practice, depends on the state of society and the way of interaction among its individuals. unless social relations among people are based on tolerance, belief in freedom, acceptance of diversity and the right to differ, democracy would not develop nor would reform the complete.
the reform experience in qatar has paid great attention to the development of our social system according to a vision that makes our true religious and national values compatible with the spirit of the age and its requirements. we focus in particular on education as an effective means for sound social upbringing that makes way for creative thinking and makes dialogue, collective work, and sharing responsibility and indispensable course to decision making. while consolidating this new social system needs time and effort: yet it is a prerequisite for the political reform to bear fruit. we in qatar are proud that our first legislative elections, for which we are getting ready, will take place under a social system that is aware of the value of participation and its benefit for the present and future of the country.
ladies and gentlemen, while our region is going through a slow transitional process toward democracy, on the contrary to that, it is going through another fast process of mounting threats and dangers. attention must be drawn here to the nature of the human fabric of our region, which is one of the riches in the world in its cultural, religious, ethnic and denominational composition. this always calls for the cooperation among all to ward off all sorts of sedition. in this respect, we stress the importance of restoring security and stability in iraq,where the events taking place there affect the safety of a wider regional circle. we affirm that the addressing of iraq s problems must remain in the hands of the iraqis themselves. we hope that they can soon be able to rebuild their country on the basis of equality in citizenship under a democratic system that guarantees their security and maintains iraq s unity and integrity.
we have to caution that any hasty move could lead to triggering a new conflict in the region, which is certainly not in need of it. as much as we know that the issue of iranian nuclear program is a sensitive one, we believe that solving it through peaceful means is the most appropriate approach. that is why i think the interest of all parties necessitates a commitment of diplomatic action for the settlement of that issue in such a way that the desire for peace prevails over the unjustifiable rush to confrontation, in order to build a world based on cooperation and not hatred, and seeks rapprochement rather than establishing axes.
i must also reaffirm that establishing a just and comprehensive peace in the middle east that restores the usurped rights of the people in palestine, the golan heights and shabaa farms is indispensable for the region to surpass one of the most severe adversities to which it has been exposed.
reviewing the democratic process in the region, and the challenges it has faced lately, cannot be complete without reviewing the state of development in it. democracy, as you know, functions better when supported by comprehensive development. though figures indicate that the region has seen some increase in the rates of development during the last few years, development cannot be measured by figures alone but by the feelings and reactions of the people and the security and assurance they have in their present day and future. and this requires major projects and creative economic ideas to which regional and international resources and capabilities are amassed, because fostering development and increasing the share of the arab world in world trade are two bases necessary for establishing comprehensive regional stability that reinforces and supports world security.
before concluding my address, i have to affirm that the region s march toward democracy,development and the age of free trade, even it is slow at times, will go on and be completed because it is guided by man s instinctive desire for freedom and his endeavor for progress and advancement. the arab citizen will not depart from the course taken by all those who achieved freedom. moreover, his legitimate economic aspirations for a better future are not illusionary. at the same time, it has to be stressed that the region must make that march by itself, and that the world ought to back it in accomplishing that mission efficiently.
i hope, ladies and gentlemen, that your forum would continue its role in supporting that mission because it is in the interest of the entire world to back the progress of democracy and the success of development in the middle east in as much as this region participates with its resources and potentials in international development and prosperity.
thank you, and i wish your forum success. may the peace, the mercy and the blessings of god be upon you. following is a welcome speech of his excellency sheikh hamad bin jassem bin jabor al-thani, prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of the state of qatar in the name of god and most gracious the most merciful his highness sheikh hamad bin khalifa al-thani, emir of qatar, her highness sheikha moza bint al-mesnad, ladies and gentlemen, we would like to first to welcome you all here and to express our appreciation and honour to have his highness emir of qatar opening this forum. we would also like to express our pleasure and appreciation for your participation in the works of this forum. doha 7th forum for democracy, development and free trade is inaugurated today, as a highlight of our activities under the honourable auspices of his highness the emir of qatar. the forum is attended by six hundred participants from 71 countries, including politicians, diplomats, academics, researchers, businessmen, media personal in addition to the attendees from qatar.
the forum started its activities in 2001 under a conference on democracy and free trade. regular conferences ensued with expansive and comprehensive discussions on the activation of democracy, free trade, economic rights, human rights, freedom of the press, the importance of the role of women, dialogue among religions and civilizations, education, the virtual relation between free trade and development. since 2005, the conference developed into a forum for democracy, development and free trade. it reflected a host of diverse issues, methods and procedures of discussions. online proceedings of the forum are published in many languages. it set an exemplary model for other for a in the whole world.
the agenda and programme of this forum is rife with issues that are directly linked to the main objectives held within. discussing and holding dialogue around such issues will definitely promote our mutual efforts towards the betterness and progress of humanity as a whole, reform and development at the political,economic and development levels. the state of qatar heeds democracy as a core issue of concern.
we had hosted the 6th international conference for the modern and restored democracies last october. it was attended by representatives of different governments, parliaments and civil society organizations.
we shall also host another conference on democracy and reform in the arab world next may. it is our pleasure and on behalf all of you to invite his highness sheikh hamad bin khalifa al-thani, emir of qatar to honour us by opening the works of this forum. you are kindly invited to open the forum your highness.
In a speech to the Seventh Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, held in the capital, Doha, Mr. Ban said globalization had made travel, shipping and communications much easier and made the benefits of trade ?"more evident than ever.
Named after the city where they were launched in 2001, the Doha Round of trade talks stalled last year amid disputes between developed and developing countries over agricultural subsidies, but talks have resumed recently.
Mr. Ban warned that if the latest talks fail, ?"serious damage will be done to those who can least afford it, to the multilateral trading system, and to multilateralism itself. Should this round of trade talks succeed, Doha will become synonymous not only with free trade, but also indelibly linked to development.
The Secretary-General told the Forum that while democracy was intrinsically valuable on its own terms, it also brought positive effects to trade and development, offering institutional certainty and stability and encouraging businesses to have greater confidence in a countryâ"¢s economic outlook.
?"Democracy, development and free trade share a conception of men and women as free and autonomous individuals, capable of fulfilling their inner potential,?¢â‚¬ he said, stressing the closeness of the relationship between the three topics.
He urged the worldâ"¢s countries to work towards ?"truly free trade, transparent governance and institutions based on the will of the people, and sustainable development and globalization that benefits everyone, and not just some of the worldâ"¢s peoples.
Earlier, Mr. Ban told reporters travelling with him on his four-nation official trip that he was frustrated by the pace of progress so far on the resumed Doha Round.
While in Qatar, the UN chief has also met with the country?¢â‚¬â"¢s Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and its Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad ibn Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani, as well as Finlandâ"¢s President Tarja Halonen, who opened the Forum.
The 7th Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade kicks off here coming tomorrow with participation of leading intellectuals, politicians and academics from Qatar and the world.
Al Rumeihi who chairs the conferences standing committee said the 7th Doha Forum would be different form the previous ones in the manner in which issue are discussed.
He noted that this time conferees would all meet together at sessions each moderated by six who would share discussion with the participants. About 90 participants, representing leading politicians, businessmen, studies and research centres, academics and the media would be there to debate issues on the forums agenda, he said.
The Minister said more than 500 participants from 70 countries would take part in the forum and for the first time a large number of Arab businessmen would attend.
Doha Forum on Democracy had earned a position among the big similar conferences held in Europe and the Middle East and had succeeded in drawing attention of many renowned figures from among politicians, businessmen and researchers because of the freedom in which it tackles issues and the outstanding participation, he said.
He noted that visions about problems and obstacles facing democracy, trade and development would be forged during the forum and some solutions would be prescribed.
He considered the forum an opportunity for helping the reforms process in the world a matter that could result in some change in policies, especially regarding democracy and development and their role in the development of people and nations.
He said the forum would focus on issues such education, the role of regions in society, liberties, women freedom and other social issues.
â€œWe have no special aim or agenda behind continuation of this forum, we are only organisers, not theorists and donâ€™t interfere in what takes place inside halls,â€? he said. He noted that issues to be discussed wouldnâ€™t touch on a certain party or government, but would be international issues of concern to all.
Al Rumeni said the forum would provide an opportunity to participates to witness the great developmental rise Qatar is witnessing, economically, socially and culturally under the leadership of the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and the Heir Apparent H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.