The Arab Economic Summit,
19-20 January 2009,
State of Kuwait

Speech of
His Excellency Mr. Amr Mosa
Secretary General of the Arab League
In the Opening Session
Of the Arab Economic, Developmental and Social Summit


His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah ,,,

His Excellency, the Head of the Periodical Arab Summit ,,,

Their Majesties, Their Excellencies and Their Highnesses,,,


In this hospitable country, Kuwait, the development summit is being held in application of the development and modernization document issued in Tunisia in 2004, and in execution of the decision of the Summit of Riyadh in 2007 of holding a summit to be allocated for economic and social issues, and aims at enhancing the mutual interest of different Arab countries, as well as enlarging it to encompass all fields of life.

 

The Arab league and its different departments has seriously prepared for this summit and followed in its preparation for it a modern advanced methodology where it decided that preparation be performed depending on fully Arabic experience which we found readily available, and that such preparation takes the relevant time necessary without hustle. It took about a year and a half to prepare for this summit. We also decided to include all parties that have a true interest in the development process. Therefore, the preparation process involved representatives of the professional Arab unions, representatives of the private sector, the civil society, non-governmental organizations, different organizations of the private sector, in addition to the collaborative work organizations including specialized ministerial councils in different developmental aspects. Of course, the role of the Arab governments was active and leading through initiation, follow up, and covering the costs required by the comprehensive preparation process for this summit.

 

As you know, the summit was preceded by an intellectual, economic and social symposium, which was participated in by several businessmen, economics, development concerned figures, experts of political economy, in addition to a lot of media staff and several international executives. I hope that holding such symposiums will become regular. This makes holding our summit unique and distinguished.

 

I would like to express my appreciation first to the two countries who took the initiative of holding a summit that draws the course toward a better future for the Arab peoples, I mean the State of Kuwait and the Arab Republic of Egypt. I would like to also thank the Arab kings and presidents who expressed their concern with the initiative commenced in Riyadh and assured in Damascus, in appreciation of the need to such summit for catching up with the modern era and to move to the requirements of facing the requirements of change in the twenty first century. I would like to also express my appreciation to this big team of Arab executives in all aspects of developmental work, whether they were executives, governmental experts, thinkers, or businessmen in commerce, industry, agriculture, investment or banking, and to our experts in education, health, labor, environment, etc. I also great the Arab public opinion who welcomed the initiative, and followed closely the preparation process and is now waiting for the decisions and projects to be decided by this summit to bring to its face back the smile, to its feelings some comfort and to its horizon some hope.

 

I say this in a time where all the Arab world misses smile, comfort and hope after living the crisis of Gaza and the brutal aggression on its people which resulted in thousands of victims and cripples.

 

We saw Israel severely attacking our Palestinian people in Gaza, killing, and destroying it. It was a great shock to the national consciousness, and a hard test to the ability of the Arabs, which made clear that the condition needs reconsideration based on the fact that the Arab and Palestinian separation gave a chance for the Israeli aggression and pride. We shall all discover that continuing to be as we are shall result in further deterioration in our condition and non-consideration for us by our enemy.

 

I, therefore, hope that it is clear that the treatment of the Arab-Israeli and the Palestinian Israeli conflict depends on creating a united Arab condition that is healthy and capable to be followed. Henceforth, we are in a dare need for repairing our internal relations as the Arab ship is about to sink after all the holes it has.

 

As for Israel and our stand against it, it is related to the total Arab liability which requires a genuine Arab movement and a responsible frank discussion, as well as a new viewpoint. This shall not all be achieved but in a less tension atmosphere of fewer troubles than what we have now.

 

A suggestion from here or there might result in different reactions, which is not in itself wrong, either toward the relation with Israel or the Arab peace initiative. People are angry for what Israel did in Gaza. They have all the right in their anger, denial and astonishment. Therefore, closing the Israeli commercial office in Doha, and the Mauritanian Embassy in Israel is worthy praising. As for the Arab initiative, the situation here is related to the Arab policy in the international frame, and with our work to gain full support of our situation, and our need to present a specific situation to which we all commit. Before we reconsider the initiative, we should draft alternative options if we are to present a serious situation. The issue does not bear any further freezing or suspension.

 

I will present you quickly specific suggestions to be discussed in the closed session that shall be allocated for discussion of Gaza issues.

 

Mr. President ,,,
Ladies and Gentlemen ,,,


I go back to the developmental economic and social summit, which is the alternative way, replacement and perhaps method to settle tension and political separation. We are about to start the second decade of the twenty first century with great challenges of development and fighting backwardness threatening societies and the future of Arab generations, with two thirds of the Arabs still suffering literacy in addition to information literacy, and poverty affecting one third of the Arab world, i.e. about one hundred million people living under two dollars a day margin, and half of the twenty million unemployed being youth.

 

If the environmental challenges are to be considered, we have about 70% of the Arab area as a desert. Despite all the fortunes we have in the Arab world, only four Arab countries are among the first fifty countries by measures of human development (based on the measurements of health, education and income), and six other Arab countries falling within the next fifty countries on that measure, while the other remaining 12 Arab countries fall within the last 100 nations on that scale.

 

Facing the challenges of backwardness, poverty and unemployment is by no means less important than confronting the challenges of occupation and refusal of the negative external interference with our resources. They all affect the present, future and security of the Arab nations.

 

Your Highness the Amir ,,,
Your Excellencies and Highnesses ,,,


Find before you the declaration of Kuwait Summit which bears the slogan of "upgrading the standard of living of the Arab citizen", and aims at drafting economic and social policies that achieve Arab integration within the frame of approved Arab treaties and strategies in the fields of financial, cash, industrial, agricultural, power, transport, water security and food security politics, in addition to other important fields.

 

The second document is the "agenda" which specifies the executive steps of the politics stated in the declaration, with time frames for such execution.

 

The third document bears a group of decisions that will be issued by the summit, which we were keen to make few in number and of a direct effect to the comprehensive Arab development course to improve the daily life of the Arab citizen, of which I specifically mention:

 

  • The project of railway connection which aims at facilitating the movement of transportation as a first step toward Arab economic integration.

  • The project of Arab electrical connection, which aims at finalizing the remaining electrical connection projects to reach an Arab market for electrical power.

  • A third decision regarding completing the requirements of establishing the Arab custom union, and to launch it by 2015 as a basic step on the road to the Arab Common Market.

This was concerning the economic field. For the social field, there is a number of important proposed programs like the Arabic program for poverty elimination in the Arab countries, which aims at setting policies leading to decreasing the rates of poverty to match the requirements of the millennium document requirements, and the comprehensive program for supporting employment and elimination of unemployment in the Arab nations, aiming at reducing employment to half of the current level by 2020, as well as setting the necessary procedures for governments to transfer labor hands among Arab nations. Within this framework, there are controls to be agreed upon, and within this frame we did not ignore the conditions of the less developed Arab nations by executing the Arab declaration for achievement of the developmental objectives of the Millennium during the period from 2009 to 2015, with specific concentration on this group of slow growth, in addition to activating the process of executing the plan for developing education in the Arab countries, which was approved in previous summits, the latest of which was in Damascus 2008, and continuing the enhancement of primary health care services.

 

We had the ambition that this summit be the beginning of a new Arab system, a system which we dreamed to be built upon a shared vision of the Arab interests, a vision that realizes the challenges of comprehensive development which can not be straightly advanced under the current disparity in health, educational and living standard levels between our societies and even within the one society. Development can not be achieved under the spread ignorance, and the lack of a stable and productive structure equipped with a protective and defending national security. We all witness the huge amounts of money spent by the Arab governments during the past decades, with the return of such expenses wasted due to negative factors, most important of which is the improper estimation of the interests between our countries, the destiny of mutual work and the possibilities for mutual gains. This requires setting stable basis for correct Arab relations protected by laws that preserve rights, and secure the proper course towards building and construction, as well as achieving dignity for people within the frame of mutual interests.

 

The Arab citizen is bored with policies built on sectarian feelings, which opened doors wide for foreign interference till we became unable to face the challenges. The crisis of Palestine and massacre of Gaza is the worst witness on this. Not very far in history, Kuwait was another example, and so were Iraq and Lebanon, as it is currently the case in the Sudan and Somalia. This avails the chance for the enemies of the nation to spread a negative image of the Arab world, and accusing it of immaturity, and sometimes of being irresponsible, and then prosing meetings and declaration, as the crying Moroccan declaration issued recently. Yes, we have to be frank with ourselves and to state that the problem is in the Arab self before it is the problem of anyone else.

 

Within such un-opportune circumstances, and while the Arab league is hardly working to transfer the mutual Arab work to a new form of dealing and openness, and to elevate the course of the Arab work toward development, modernization, and political, economic and social reform, the Arab league encountered a concentrated attack that may aim to achieving the anticipations of many parties in destroying the Arab collective entity. We should be alert in this concern, and to stand as one row in confrontation of this. We are working to make the Arab league an effective regional organization, a contemporary one that is active in the Agenda of the international work as part of the work of the United Nations, and to tackle regional and international files and issues as a speaker in the name of the Arabs, a defender of their issues and their interests.

 

In this concern I was, and is still, keen to keep the Arab League away from attractions and hassle, to interfere with positive work, and to take the initiative to provide the possible limit of solidarity, compromise and unity of situation. Yes, it makes me feel pain that the Arab league is the first to be subject to the arrows of attractions, to receive accusations and be described of attributes that do not match its mission, or the responsibilities shouldered by those in charge of it, and the positions of its members.

 

Mr. President,,,

I know very well that the first mission of mine is to protect this Arab house from cracking, and even to develop and modernize it. While we believe that some success is beginning to be achieved in this course, we find the Arab house threatened of collapse; Once more, because of defaults within the family of the Arab house rather than outside. I hope that we can regain sensibility, spirit, will and determination before it is too late, and to be far from the diplomacy of shrinking and jumping to the unknown, in order to give the young Arab generations some hope and confidence in a better future they deserve, and have the right to dream of, and which we have to work to achieve.

 

 

May Allah bless our efforts for the interest of the Arab citizens. Let's do our best and hope for Godspeed.



Asalamu Alikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakato.

 

 

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