Speech from the Throne by His Majesty King Abdullah II Opening the Second Ordinary Session of the Seventeenth Parliament
9 Muharram 1436
2 November 2014
In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate
Prayers and peace be upon Our Master Mohammad, the Honest Arab Hashemite Prophet
Peace, God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
In the name of God, and with His blessings, we inaugurate the second ordinary session of the Seventeenth Parliament. This step constitutes a new milestone in our journey towards deepening democracy, particularly its parliamentary pillar, and to continue our reform drive and serving our homeland and citizens.
On this day, I address all Jordanians and greet them with honour and pride, for they have demonstrated throughout the years their ability to stand firm in confronting challenges imposed by historical transformations in the region, relying on their national unity and consensus on protecting their homeland, a country which has sacrificed greatly for Arab and Muslim causes.
Despite all challenges, Jordan did not and will not allow for difficulties and regional turmoil to be an excuse to hesitate in moving forward with comprehensive reforms. For we have never regarded reform as a reaction to difficult circumstances. For Jordan, reform is a homegrown national aspiration, which consolidates national unity, pluralism, moderation, widens participation, deepens democracy and enroots our parliamentary government system.
In regards to activating citizens’ participation in the decision-making process, we launched a pilot parliamentary government by adopting a consultative approach with MPs and parliamentary blocs to reach a consensus on choosing a prime minister. We have also sought to empower citizens with the ability to contribute to formulating a 10-year economic blueprint that aims at achieving decent living standards and a promising future for the sons and daughters of our beloved Jordan.
As for ongoing efforts to fight poverty and unemployment, they include endorsing the National Employment Strategy to generate jobs for the youth, establishing the Governorates Development Fund, which requires increasing its allocations to widen the scope of support for SMEs and productive projects, as well as strengthening the social safety net protecting low-income groups by making sure that subsidies are better directed to those who deserve them.
On the larger economic scale, several mega-projects have been achieved, namely the Disi Water Conveyance, the development of Queen Alia International Airport and the Containers Terminal; in addition to other projects in progress, such as terminals for general cargo, oil and liquid gas, energy projects, especially renewable and alternative, as well as developing a railway network and the public transport sector in a manner that would lead to a qualitative leap for this and other sectors.
Among key achievements are steps taken to enroot the principles of integrity, transparency, fighting all forms of corruption and enhancing citizens’ trust in the state and its institutions. To this end, the Royal Committee for Enhancing the Integrity System has formulated a National Integrity Charter that enshrines values of justice, equality and accountability. And in order to ensure the execution of the Committee’s recommendations, we designated a Royal Committee to monitor and evaluate progress. Moreover, the Privatisation Review Committee submitted its report, which will inform future economic policies. These efforts ensure best practices in managing national wealth.
The coming period requires sincere and collective efforts to build on what has been achieved, according to clear national priorities and parallel reform paths.
On the political reform path, the government has started formulating a detailed and gradual plan to activate the role of the Ministry of Defence so that it pursues political, economic, social and logistical tasks related to national defence. This entails activating the role of the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management. Moreover, your esteemed assembly has recently endorsed a constitutional amendment that allows the Independent Election Commission to administer municipal and any other national elections, in addition to parliamentary polls, which will require a number of legislative amendments to ensure compatibility with the Constitution.
The political reform path also requires enrooting local governance by first completing the municipalities and decentralisation laws and then moving on to the Elections Law, in addition to continuously developing the working mechanisms of the House of Representatives, which include its internal bylaws, adopting a code of conduct and institutionalising the work of parliamentary blocs on partisan and platform basis. This needs to be done in parallel to realising the goals of the national plan for human rights, for there can be no reform without respect for rights and protection of freedoms.
On the administrative reform path, it is crucial to adopt workable mechanisms, as there is no point in having public sector reform programmes, including the e-government project, if citizens do not feel a tangible improvement in the quality of services provided to them. In this regard, I stress on the importance of having all state institutions commit to enhancing the culture of excellence, transparency and accountability, in addition to adhering to the National Integrity Charter and formulating the institutional framework needed to enhance the integrity system according to the recommendations which will be presented by the Royal Committee to monitor and evaluate progress.
On the economic reform path, endorsing economic laws must be expedited, especially those pertaining to energy and investment. The income tax law should be finalised in a manner that reflects the utmost degree of responsibility and develops the business environment on the basis of the recommendations of the economic blueprint.
As for health and education services, a qualitative leap and radical reform in these sectors need to be induced, through a nationwide debate encompassing all relevant state institutions, in order to safeguard Jordan’s pioneering position in these vital fields.
Jordan has always shouldered its moral and humanitarian responsibilities on matters that threaten regional and international security. Jordan will continue to deploy its international status and membership in the UN Security Council in the service of the causes of our Arab and Muslim nation.
The Palestinian cause remains our principal cause and is a higher national interest. Jerusalem, whose soil is watered by the blood and sacrifices of our martyrs, is a responsibility that lies in the depth of our conscience. Jordan will continue to confront, through all available means, Israeli unilateral policies and measures in Jerusalem and preserve its Muslim and Christian holy sites, until peace is restored to the land of peace.
We will continue to mobilise international support to rebuild Gaza, following the vile Israeli aggression, which killed thousands of our brethren Palestinians and destroyed their livelihoods.
In order for such an aggression not to repeat itself again, final status negotiations must be resumed, leading to a permanent peace on the basis of a two-state solution according to international terms of reference and the Arab Peace Initiative, allowing Palestinians to establish their independent state on their national soil with East Jerusalem as its capital.
As for the Syrian crisis, we reiterate that the only solution is a comprehensive political one, realised through the participation of all components of the Syrian people, assuring the country’s unity and stability. The absence of such a solution will intensify sectarian strife on the regional level. Similarly, the absence of a just and permanent solution for the Palestinian cause will feed extremism and terrorism.
Jordan has fulfilled its pan-Arab and humanitarian responsibilities towards our brethren Syrian refugees. Although we truly appreciate all the support received from our brothers and friends, the amount of international support does not rise to the level of the crisis and the implications of hosting Syrian refugees. The international community must shoulder its responsibilities in providing assistance to refugees, Jordan and local host communities.
Our region is suffering from a number of organisations that embrace an extremist takfiri ideology, and are murdering Muslims as well as innocent women and children in the name of Islam, but Islam has nothing to do with this. Islam is a faith of peace, tolerance, moderation, acceptance of the other and respect for the rights of all to live in peace and dignity, regardless of colour, gender, religion or belief. These organisations are waging war against Islam and Muslims above all else.
Our religious and humanitarian duty demands that we confront with strength and firmness all those who try to instigate sectarian wars or distort the image of Islam and Muslims. Accordingly, the war on these terrorist organisations and their radical ideology is our war because we are targeted and we must defend ourselves, Islam, and the values of tolerance and moderation by fighting extremism and terrorists. Everyone who supports this extremist takfiri ideology or tries to justify it is an enemy of Islam, the homeland and all noble human values. At the same time, the international community must confront extremism in other religions and sects.
The source of Jordan’s resilience is our strong internal front and the practices of active citizenship. Accordingly, we reiterate here that dialogue and respect for law are the path to achieving the highest degree of consensus vis-à-vis our national causes.
The advanced level of liberties and progressive environment of political and social participation, which Jordan uniquely enjoys amidst a tumultuous region, is the result of security and stability gains, for which our comrades in the armed forces and security agencies have made many sacrifices to preserve. We salute them with pride and appreciation. I tell you, brave soldiers, the motto that you wear on your uniforms, “The Arab Army”, is not just a slogan, nor came by coincidence. It is a testament of this army’s commitment to defend the causes of the Arab nation, its soil and security against all threats. Jordan’s security is part and parcel of the security of brethren Arab countries. The Arab Army, and their comrades in security institutions, will remain – as always – ready to confront all threats to our national security and the security of our neighbouring brothers because Arab security is indivisible.
In order for our army and security institutions to maintain the highest degrees of efficiency and capability, I confirm that all state institutions must remain committed to supporting our armed forces and security agencies, who work night and day to preserve the security of Jordan and Jordanians.
And Jordan will forever remain a model of coexistence, compassion and solidarity between all its citizens, Muslims and Christians, and a safe haven for brothers in need, advocating righteousness and never hesitating in fighting extremism, intolerance and terrorism resolutely.
Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you.