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

Speech of
His Excellency President Bashar Al-Asad
President of the Syrian Arab Republic
In the Opening Session
Of the Arab Economic, Developmental and Social Summit



Brother Arab Leaders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


I would like to first than the brotherly country Kuwait, its government and its people for hosting this first economic summit of its type in the Arab world. Kuwait has always had its serious participation in providing the material and immaterial facilities for supporting the mutual Arab work. I would like to specially great and thank my brother His Highness Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait for his efforts during the previous summit for holding this summit which reflects the increase of the common and official realization of the importance of debate in the economic issues for achieving further integration and coordination among the Arab nations, particularly in view of the fast transforms witnessed by our current world, and the crises encountered by our Arab countries, to be able to organize our policies and economic trends for the benefit of our peoples.

 

There is no doubt that we have a lot of hindrances ahead, most important of which is the weakness of political will which is, before other factors, the main core for deciding the desirable or possible limits of such organization. If economy is the support of politics, and the strong foundation for achieving a better structure for the mutual Arab work, the existence of political will and the political leaders co-understanding of the importance of economic cooperation shall push the economic integrity forward.

 

If the link between politics and economy is a self evident truth, politics usually remain mere politics, while economic affairs are difficult to be put aside from other affecting factors, particularly politics, which results in security and stability and lead to development or the other way round. Such link is stronger in our Arab world. Our political relations reflect directly upon our economic relations, without giving priority to other factors necessary for economy, and in a manner that even differs with the basics of economy. We thus see that the economic relation improves with the improvement of political relations, which is positive, but when the political relations worsen, the citizens and businessmen in relevant countries pay the direct price which could be enormous in most cases. We all lived and witnessed the vibrant Arabic relations along the past decades, and we all understand that such vibration can not lead to sound and developed economic relations as it sets a ceiling that is hard to surpass regardless of how many treaties and agreements we conclude as long as we did not provide mechanisms and structures crystallize such relations and separate them from our political trends and personal modes. This shall grant trust to investors and businessmen and reflect positively on citizens in different Arab countries.

 

If we rapidly compared the economic Arab council and the nucleus of the European Union which were both established in the beginning of the fifties (1953 for the first and 1951 for the second), and the vast distance and difference between what we achieved and what Europe achieved during that period of time, we can comprehend how big the default and how huge the responsibility to be able to compensate for what we missed.

 

No one denies that we have achieved some steps in this course, particularly after the great Arab Free Trade Zone is activated in 2005. however, this remains very little and its effect remains limited in achieving Arab economic integration unless followed by other steps like freeing service trade, free transportation of individuals, in addition to adopting mechanisms for compensating countries affected with the process or freeing such services, particularly decrease of revenues, to guarantee justice and benefit at the same time.

 

We agreed on holding this specialized summit long before the occurrence of the world financial crises, but are holding it after it, and under its consequences, which hit the rich and reflected on the poor.

 

As part of the international economic system, we shall be affected with the occurring collapses in a way or another. Economic integration among us shall eliminate the losses, and secure protection from any world or future crises that may appear in the future. It shall also increase our abilities in view of the severe international competition and re-direct Arabic investments to its natural environment, in addition to achieving development in its comprehensive concept.

 

Dear Brothers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


As we re-assure the connection between economy and policy, it is not possible to let go the political events that are the most dangerous for us and the main concern for Arab citizens and for others dominating other issues; these are the events of Gaza, the unsurpassed crime with its consequences that may reflect on our countries in all aspects of life, politically, economically, and even on the humanitarian level.

 

Each case has its people who are more concerned with it. We are not here to take decisions on their behalf, or to press them. We are here to support them. Who are they? They are the ones paying the price, those who exist in Gaza, who insisted to go for the honorable battle, militarily and politically, in person and not to let anyone do it on their behalf.

 

Their issue has two aspects; a political and a humanitarian one, both of which are being summarized through a comprehensive extermination with all Israeli hatred and racism. It would have been difficult for them to do so without the Palestinian separation, which is in turn a reflection of our Arab differences. If treatment of such differences is a must in all cases, particularly to avoid such reflections in the future, the treatment of the current situation needs taking fast and decisive decisions in the following concerns:
Stopping the aggression / cease fire/ withdrawal of the aggressive Israeli forces / removing the blockade immediately / opening the cross points to keep the injured alive, the alive persons healthy, and this is the least that can be done.

 

In addition to this, we should all participate in sending human aids currently and in reconstructing Gaza in the future.


Our political and moral support to Gaza is not less important. This should be through assuring its right to defend itself in all means, and its right to reply to the aggression, and this means we should frankly support the Palestinian resistance and refuse any trials to doubt its nationality or legality, or connecting it with terrorism by any means. I propose to this summit to officially adopt calling the Zionist entity "The Terrorist Entity", particularly after its last aggression. When a person intends to perform a terrorist action we do not hesitate to call him a terrorist, how about those who are doing this for decades, in a repeated manner, and those who chose only terrorist leaders to lead them.

 

Despite this comes after announcing the cease fire, this does not mean the end of the aggression, and therefore is not a justification for us to rest assured. The invading forces are still in Gaza, and the blockade is still active and affecting its people, and the bad intention of the Israelis and their hatred of the Arabs did not and shall not change. This part of the world that calls itself the civilized world insists to remain blind. That is why it sees the problem as smuggling weapons and not in the crimes committed with internationally prohibited weapons. This is not only equaling the victim to the aggressor, as some may wrongfully think, but replacing the aggressor with the victim.

 

All these issues makes the possibility of repeating this aggression exist at any time, till the Israeli policies change, which is unexpected, or until we change the conditions, which depends on our solidarity for the favor of our issues and not against them.

 

Dear brothers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


If the circumstances necessitated that our meeting today be as much political as economic, I hope that this summit be a summit of decisions not a summit of settlements. A summit that serves our Arab economy, our national and humanitarian principles, encourages investment between our countries, and supports the resistant Palestinians by supporting their legal right for resistance as a method for regaining rights. If development is the base for our welfare, resistance is the base for our existence and continuity. We should be its depth for it to be our security.

 

 

Asalamu Alikum

 

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