Friday October 17, 2003 02:32 PM



In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,

Mr. Chairman,

Your Majesties, Your Excellencies, Your Highnesses,

Your Excellency Mr. Secretary General,

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.

Mr. Chairman,

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.

Mr. Chairman,

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 United Nations.

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 peaceful purposes.

Mr. Chairman,

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 and cohesion.

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.

Mr. Chairman,

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 them.

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 occupation.

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 charters.

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 civilizations.

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 civilizations.

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 Peace".

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.

Mr. Chairman,

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 solidarity.

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 better future.

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.

Mr. Chairman,

Your Majesties,

Your Excellencies,

Your Highnesses,

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 Ummah.

Thank you for your attention.