H.H. the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Misnad sponsored the opening of the 8th Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade at Sheraton Doha hotel Sunday evening.
The opening ceremony was also attended by their excellencies Sheikhs, Cabinet Ministers, Advisory (Shura) Council Speaker, Guests of the Forum and heads of diplomatic missions accredited to the State of Qatar.
About the major challenges present day has to meet, namely democracy, development and free trade, H.H. the Emir noted that the past seven years of the Forum history prove time and again that "We are taking the right standpoint towards the major issues of our time, which has been challenging to us in many ways."
Democracy is our means for progress. Development, the success of which hinges on the success in stabilization, is the optimal means to ensure decent living standards, and Free Trade is a catalyst for total development, H.H. the Emir said.
Following is the text of The address of H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Amir of the Sate of Qatar, at Doha 8th Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, 13 April 2008
In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful,
Your Highnesses and Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Audience, I welcome you all to the Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade in its 8th Session. Undoubtedly, this high level participation in this Forum is a sign of progress and an added value to the importance of the effective role it plays in the eservice of political, economic and social development programs.
Ladies and Gentlemen, A glance at the outlines of Doha Forum this year shows that the road before us is still long in spite of what we have achieved. It also comes with a visible indication which makes me feel that the rate of moving forward is gaining double strength in all aspects and directions; and that the past seven years since the Forum was established confirm that we are firmly standing the right stand in our time which is challenging us in many of its issues, one of which is "Democracy"; it is our means to the concept of progress and without it we could not find for ourselves a place in our time. We need to prepare the suitable environment for innovation and modernization, which could only be realized by means of popular participation and respect of human rights.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The second issue is development, the success of which depends on the level of stability. It is the optimum means to achieve decent living standards befitting human ambition and values. Stability is the frame that protects the economic development process and strengthens the links with its time. Therefore it is essential to provide a stable climate to support the development process, encourage investment, attract capital, provide new job opportunities and increase the flow of trade. Non-optimal exploitation of resources would undermine the foundation and pillars of development. Ladies and Gentlemen, Great nations realize by their historical sense that the rate of progress depends on what they have prepared and provided for their citizens who are their future, and who can change what should be changed in these nations, for the civilizational renewal to be possible.
The third issue that represents a basic part of the activities of this Forum is free trade, which enhances the value of comprehensive development. Hence we find ourselves before a triangular challenge: "a democracy" with its own means of strength, "a comprehensive development" backing it, and managing its affairs to be its support, and "a free trade" supporting it, I am confident that we are up to the level of this civilizational challenge with all its turbulences.
Ladies and Gentlemen, You would agree with me that we live on a planet raging with unprecedented conflicts and contradictions which raises concern especially as the fate of our countries is that they are located in an area where fires are endless. In this climate which is heavily clouded with dense smoke, we should, in addressing the issues of democracy, development and free trade, consider them as issues of destiny.
Once again, I welcome you, and wish you and the Forum all success.
May the peace, mercy and the blessings of God be upon you.
H.E. the prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor al Thani delivered an opening speech at the forum, in which he affirmed the continued support of H.H. the Emir to the goals of of the forum in order to achieve progress and development in human life, justice and stability,
He pointed out that the sessions of this forum, since their onset, testify to the fact that we have continued our discussions and debates with the aim of diagnose the ailments and obstacles and prescribe the suitable solutions thereto. The discussions in this session revolve around various political, economic, financial , commercial and information issues that have a bearing in life at various national, regional and international levels, H.E the prime minister added. He noted that these issues are interconnected and have reciprocal effects on each other, hoping that they would be discussed and analyzed more comprehensively, accurately and objectively,
The 8th Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade concluded here on Tuesday Evening following three-days' detailed deliberations which covered a host of causes relating to politicis, .
The European Parliament is highly critical of those who equate Islam with terrorism, its President said here yesterday. "I will not accept this and we in the European Parliament do not accept that Islam and terrorism are identified as the same thing.
He said the European Parliament rejected statements, pictures or descriptions that identify violence and terrorism with Muslim beliefs.
Referring to the controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders' anti -Islam film Fitna, Pottering said: "I express my opposition to this film and the same thing with the Danish cartoons."
"We in Europe are committed to the freedom of the press, on the one hand, but on the other the media should develop a sort of self responsibility. They should always know the consequences of what they publish about other cultures," he said.
"We should respect others' beliefs and our relations should be based on mutual tolerance."
He commended the opening of a church in Qatar, saying this is something he understands as tolerance.
Pottering said 2008 is the European Year of Inter- Cultural Dialogue. "I deeply believe that understanding between the Arab world and Europe is very important for our common future," he said.
"There are people who think the clash of civilizations is inevitable. But I reject this idea very strongly. I believe it is our moral and political obligation to work for partnership, peace and understanding."
During the European Year of Inter-Cultural Dialogue, Pottering and the European Parliament intend to achieve closer cooperation between cultures, especially by promoting dialogue with Arab and Muslim countries in an effort to improve mutual understanding.
This is the first visit by Pottering to a GCC country. Yesterday evening he delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 8th Doha Forum, which will deal with international peace and dialogue, democracy, human rights, free trade, development, and economic and social reforms.
Asked about the prospects of the long awaited free trade agreement between the EU and the GCC, Pottering said relations with Gulf States are very important for the EU and a long-standing agreement is needed.
He said the EU Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will visit the region and this will give a boost to negotiations.
"It is my deep wish that trade and economic relations between the GCC and EU develop in a positive way," he said.
Cooperation between the EU, Qatar and the GCC, as well as common challenges and areas of mutual concern, such as the merits of regional integration, the role Qatar plays in the stability of the Gulf region and in the Middle East peace process, including the role of Qatar in the Arab Quartet, as well as the promotion of inter- cultural dialogue were the focus of Pottering's meetings with Qatari officials.
In his address at the 8th Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade 2008, Hussein A. Bhaila, Sri Lanka Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, emphasized on the importance of developing countries formulating their own national strategies to combat poverty and terrorism
He pointed out that in particular, eliminating the scourge of terrorism has proved to be costly for many developing countries including my own. He urged for the need of collective action by the world community in eliminating terrorism as a subject which is very important in ensuring security and peace in the world.
Hussein A. Bhaila said that excessive debt servicing has severely constrained the capacity of developing countries to promote social development and provide basic services. It has also exacerbated the gap between the rich and the poor. He urged the developed countries and International Financial Institutions to work towards the outright cancellation of the unsustainable debt of developing countries. He added that it is in this light that Official Development Assistance (ODA) is essential. Official Development Assistance has significantly contributed to individual country efforts to tackle poverty.
Given below the remarks made by Hussein A Bhaila, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, on Bridging the Gap between the Rich and the Poor, at the 8th Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade 2008 held in Qatar.
FM Livni: "Peace requires historical reconciliation. We are ready and willing to walk this path. But, all sides must choose to walk with us. The hearts and minds of the entire region must be prepared for this historical process."
European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering will speak at the 8th Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade