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Acceptance Speech

King Hussein I
King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

July 4, 1996

Honorable Mayor Edward Rendell, We the People 2000, Honorable Chairman and Members of the International Selection Commission for The Liberty Medal, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I would like to express my sincere regrets that circumstances make it impossible for me to be with you in person on this great occasion. It is with profound gratitude that I accept the Liberty Award and that I share it with my dear friend and partner, His Excellency Mr. Shimon Peres. I extend my warm regards and wishes to all of you on this day of independence.
It was less than two months ago, on May 25th, that we in Jordan celebrated our 50th Anniversary of Independence, crowning years of achievements and development, based on the principles of the great Arab Revolt that fought for independence, freedom and Arab renaissance.

Over the past fifty years, we in Jordan have made the human being the center and focus of our development efforts. All basic rights of the citizens that are guaranteed by the constitution – freedom, human rights, education, health care – constituted the starting point of our national development efforts.

Within that relatively short time span, Jordan emerged as one of the countries in the region that boasts a population with the highest level of literacy and education, a developed infrastructure, a regional center for health care, and a highly skilled labor force.

But we did not stop at that. Jordan has readied itself to meet the challenges of the future, to take part and compete in a global economy in an increasingly globalized world. We have built upon our tradition of moderation and openness in both the political and economic spheres. We have strengthened our model of political pluralism and democracy through the constitution and the national charter, enabling every Jordanian citizen to participate in the decision-making process in an atmosphere of openness, fairness and freedom. On the economic front, we have strengthened our market-oriented economy through structural reforms, including the liberalization of economic rules and regulations to attract international investment, and thus to benefit the people.

That vision which we planned for ourselves in Jordan saw peace as a strategic choice: an objective and a way of life. Jordan had long sought to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East – an area that has been denied the opportunity for development due to the unfortunate catastrophe of wars in the past. Thus, when the proper opportunity presented itself to launch a peace process, Jordan, along with the main parties to the conflict, sought not to let the opportunity pass by.

In 1994, we concluded an impressive and comprehensive treaty of peace with Israel, with more than fifteen agreements covering all facets of life from tourism and cultural exchange to strategic cooperation. The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Mr. Shimon Peres were our partners in a genuine process of peace that will in the end, God-willing; bring security and prosperity to all the peoples in the region. We created a genuine and solid model of peace that can be built in the entire region; and one that can be safeguarded and protected by generations to come.

I am proud to say that our model of peace takes into account the different facets of life, segments of societies and sectors of the economies to form the basis for regional economic cooperation. This is the only way to take the region into the 21st century, and enable its people to flourish and enjoy the economic prosperity that has long been missing. I am confident that the continuous commitment of all the concerned parties in the peace process, together with the noble efforts of the United States of America, will enable the Middle East to realize the long sought comprehensive peace and stability.

Finally, I extend to the Honorable President William Clinton, and the friendly American people, and to the Mayor and all gathered here, my warmest congratulations on the occasion of the Independence Day.

Your sincere friend,
Hussein Bin Talal