Friday October 17, 2003 02:32 PM
PRESIDENT ZINE EL ABIDINE BEN ALI, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TUNISIA,
OCT 16-17, 2003
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the
Your Majesties, Your Excellencies,
Your Excellency Mr. Secretary
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my distinct pleasure to express
to His Excellency Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and through his person, to the
government and people of sisterly Malaysia, my most sincere thanks and
consideration, for hosting the lOth Session of the Islamic Summit
Conference and for providing it with optimum conditions of success.
While congratulating Dr. Mahathir
Mohamad for being elected chairman of this conference, we would like to
express our conviction that his wisdom and knowledge of the problems of
the Islamic Ummah will certainly offer us much assistance in our
proceedings whose results we hope will be up to our countries'
aspirations and ambitions.
We avail ourselves of this
opportunity to express to His Highness Cheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani,
Emir of the sisterly Qatar, our deep consideration for the great efforts
that His Highness has exerted, during his chairmanship of the 9th
Islamic Summit, to serve the causes of our Ummah.
We also salute His Excellency Dr.
Abdelwaheb Belkaziz, the Secretary General of the Islamic Conference
Organization, commending the eminent role he still assumes at the head
of fraternity and solidarity between the members of the Islamic Ummah
and to elevate the status of our sublime religion, the religion of
peace, love and tolerance.
This summit is being held within an
extremely delicate international juncture, marked by a plurality of
challenges and dangers threatening our Ummah. This situation has been
further aggravated by the developments in Iraq as well as by the
deterioration recently witnessed on the Palestinian scene. This in
addition to the escalation of the campaign against our sublime religion.
Today, we are called upon to closely
examine this complex situation, and to carefully explore the most
appropriate ways to get out of it, in order to preserve our countries'
integrity and stability, to guarantee our peoples' right to a life of
freedom, dignity and invulnerability, and to contribute to consolidating
the foundations of peace and security in the world.
Your Majesties, Your Excellencies, Your Highnesses,
The difficult situation experienced
by the brotherly Palestinian people, as a result of Israel's continuous
aggressions and persistence in using the logic of force, calls upon our
Summit to act in order to promptly provide an international protection
for the Palestinian people, and to urge all influential parties to work
for establishing peace in the region, by accelerating the implementation
of the "Roadmap" and reviving the peace process, in accordance with the
principle of international legality and the relevant resolutions of the
The achievement of a comprehensive,
just and durable peace in the region requires the restoring of all the
rights of the Palestinian people, in the forefront of which the right to
selfdetermination and the creation of its independent state on its
territories with Al-Qods Al-Sharif as its capital. It also requires that
the sisterly Syria and Lebanon recover their occupied territories.
Our Organization is called upon,
today and more than ever before, to take quick and immediate action, in
order to guard against Israel's continuous attempts to modify the
monuments of the city of Al-Qods Al-Sharif and to violate the sanctity
of Al-Aqsa mosque.
It is also necessary to join our
efforts with those of peaceloving nations, in order to make of the
Middle-East a region free of weapons of mass destruction, and to tackle
this knotty question with all sincerity and impartiality, away from the
double standard policy, while asserting the right of Islamic countries,
like all other countries of the world, to use nuclear energy for
We believe that the Islamic Ummah
should transcend the state of confusion and hesitation engendered by the
war against Iraq and its grave ramifications, and should adopt a
well-thought collective approach on the basis of which it faces the new
situation and cooperates with the international community represented by
the United Nations Organization, in order for Iraq to recover its full
sovereignty while preserving the unity of its people and of its
territories and so as to start, without delay, the process of
reconstructing the war damages, within a context of security, stability
In this regard, Tunisia reiterates
its hope that the first initiatives taken in Iraq and welcomed by the
Security Council in its resolution 1500 will allow the Iraqi people to
consolidate its sovereignty in the nearest future.
The intensification of extremism and
terrorism in the world reinforces our conviction that an efficient
action against these grave scourges necessitates the adoption of a
comprehensive international approach, in order to combat and eradicate
It is based on this conviction that
Tunisia reiterated, during the current session of the United Nations
General Assembly, its call to hold an international conference, under
the UN patronage, in order to establish a code of ethics for the fight
against terrorism, a code that will commit all countries. No doubt, the
adoption of such a code would help crystallize a common vision of these
phenomena and clarify concepts, and would, therefore, put an end to all
forms of confusion with Islam or with the right of peoples to resist
In this context, we believe that the
success of the international community in tackling these phenomena
cannot be achieved without analyzing their root causes, endeavoring to
eliminate the factors of despair, exclusion and marginalization brought
about by the widening gap between the developed world and the developing
world, and curbing the negative effects of globalization.
We are convinced that the sisterly
Islamic countries, which were the first to establish an appropriate
legal framework for the fight against extremism and terrorism by
adopting the Islamic code of ethics and then the anti-terrorism
convention, will spare no effort to support the Tunisian initiative.
Establishing peace, security and
stability in the world requires the consecration of the principles of
dialogue, entente and tolerance between peoples, which are, in fact,
intellectual and civilizational values necessary to establish balanced
international relations. No doubt, the logic of confrontation of
civilizations is irreconcilable with these lofty values advocated by all
heavenly religions and consecrated by all international covenants and
Seen from this perspective, and in
implementation of the principles of our glorious Islamic religion, our
countries and our Organization are called upon to endeavor to consecrate
dialogue among cultures and religions and to highlight the outstanding
image of Islam which calls for disseminating fraternity, love and
peaceful coexistence and rejects all forms of extremism and seclusion.
It is indeed one of our imperative
duties, in this period when the world witnesses a genuine revolution in
the field of communication, to make judicious use of the modern means of
communication, in order to make known the specificities of the Islamic
civilization as well as its noble values and openness on other world
It is also quite useful that our
countries work to increase the number of events and forums intended to
establish channels of contact and dialogue with other world
Deeply rooted in its Islamic
identity, Tunisia has been determined to efficiently contribute to this
effort. In this regard, it organized in April of the current year, and
in collaboration with the Islamic Conference Organization, a symposium
on "Islam and Peace" whose proceedings were crowned by the adoption of
the "Tunis Declaration" and the establishment of the "Tunis Forum for
The results of this symposium came to
consolidate the numerous steps and initiatives continuously taken by our
country to promote dialogue among civilizations, cultures and religions.
Indeed, Tunisia established in 1995 the "Carthage Charter on Tolerance",
created in 2001 "Ben Ali's Chair for the Dialogue of Civilizations and
Cultures", and hosted, in the same year, the international symposium on
the dialogue of civilizations.
In the same context, and based on its
belief in the role of sports in strengthening the bonds of friendship,
cooperation and rapprochement between peoples, and in view of the
importance of physical education as a tool to consolidate the
foundations of peace and development in the world, Tunisia submitted to
the United Nations General Assembly, during its current session, a draft
resolution calling for the proclamation of an international year for
sports and physical education in the service of peace and development.
Our hope is that the Islamic
community continues supporting this initiative, particularly in the
framework of the United Nations system, in view of the noble ends it
seeks to achieve.
At a time when the contemporary world
witnesses an increase in the hotbeds of tension and agitation and a
deterioration of the human conditions caused by the propagation of
poverty, diseases and deprivation, Tunisia reaffirms its determination
to contribute to establishing new international relations based on
cooperation, solidarity and mutual assistance:, in such a way as to
reduce the gap between developed countries and the less developed ones,
and to reinforce the conditions of security, stability and development
in the world.
In this regard, we are called upon to
join our efforts in order to consolidate the foundations of stability,
security and countries will offer their support to the New Partnership
for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and contribute to sustaining the
efforts of the African Union to realize the ambitions of the African
peoples for progress and welfare, and to materialize their legitimate
aspirations for economic complementarity, comprehensive development,
prosperity and invulnerability.
Tunisia takes this opportunity to
reiterate its call for establishing an Islamic-African partnership plan,
which the Secretariat General of the Islamic Conference Organization
would materialize, in collaboration with the Islamic commission for
On the other hand, Tunisia, which
follows the development of the situation in Afghanistan, expresses the
wish to see stability and security re-established in all the territories
of this sisterly country, so as to reinforce the process of its
reconstruction. Moreover, Tunisia reaffirms its readiness to contribute
to this process with its know-how, in order to serve peace and
development in the region.
While renewing our most sincere
thanks for the support with which our initiative to establish a world
fund for solidarity and fight against poverty has been met, we cherish
the hope that the Islamic countries will join their efforts with those
of other countries of the world, and provide this fund with the
necessary financial resources, so that it can launch its noble and
humanitarian action as soon as possible.
We commend the crucial role assumed
by our Organization since its creation and up to the present, in
establishing the foundations of solidarity and mutual assistance between
Islamic countries, in consolidating their relations, in making their
voice heard all over the world, and in highlighting the brilliant image
of our glorious religion.
We believe that it is necessary today
for our Organization to develop and further activate its structures so
that it can assume its missions most effectively and take up the
challenges facing the Islamic Ummah with a high degree of efficiency.
We hope that our Summit will
constitute a major landmark in the evolution of the Islamic Conference
Organization and will inaugurate a new dynamic that is in tune with the
development programs adopted by our countries to elevate common Islamic
action to the level of our peoples' ambitions and aspiration for a
Tunisia, which is committed to our
Organization's principles and noble objectives, will spare no effort to
continue contributing to the reinforcement of common Islamic action, so
that the Islamic Ummah can achieve the influential position to which it
aspires, while remaining attached to its Islamic civilization as well as
to the foundations of modernity.
Islamic countries are called upon to
keep pace with the technological progress and to consolidate cooperation
among them in this field and in other economic fields, by launching
joint projects., promoting Islamic bilateral commerce and establishing
a. rational program that aims at promoting investment in all sectors.
Tunisia, which is preparing to host
the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005,
relies on the support of Islamic countries to ensure the success of this
Summit and to make of it an excellent opportunity to reinforce the
chances of developing countries to reduce the digital divide, especially
by adopting an international charter and regional action plans aimed at
making optimum use of the information technologies in the development
programs of developing countries.
While we are preparing to welcome
"Ramadan", the holy month during which the Koran was revealed as a guide
to people, allow me to express to all of you my most sincere
congratulations, praying Almighty God to make this month a good omen for
welfare and abundance for the whole Islamic Ummah.
May God offer us His help and His
inspiration, for the good, glory and invulnerability of our Islamic
Thank you for your attention.