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State visit to Jordan: Preserving Spaces for Dialogue

Speech given by His Majesty The King at the seminar "Preserving Spaces for Dialogue" during Their Majesties' state visit to Jordan 2 - 4 March 2020.

Your Royal Highness
Ladies and gentlemen

Our programme today on this state visit has given us powerful and lasting impressions. Unforgettable memories that the Queen and I will take with us back to Norway.

Our visit to the Jordan River and the Baptism Site was a reminder of how connected we are as human beings. In many ways, Jordan’s history is also our history. In the highly appreciated company of King Abdullah, we were reminded that our countries’ religious traditions are deeply connected.

Jordan has had the courage and vision to seek to bring tolerance and common understanding between peoples, cultures and religions. Its broad-mindedness has made it possible for us to visit a church we are familiar with in Norway: The Evangelical-Lutheran Church – built on Jordanian land, overlooking the hills that lead up to Jerusalem.

So what could be more suitable than to conclude this afternoon with a seminar on ‘Preserving Spaces for Dialogue’?

Dialogue can create space for new ways of thinking. However, no region or society can take this space for granted. As we all know, the situation in Jordan is complex. The path of dialogue and compromise can be demanding.

Nevertheless, Jordan has chosen dialogue. For me, three areas where this brave strategy is particularly evident spring to mind:

First, in the area of humanitarian action: The way Jordan has received refugees serves as an example to us all. Your message about caring for people in need, and your appeal to the international community to stand by you, have created a space for dialogue. A humanitarian space in a world where this often seems to be in short supply.

Second, in the area of economic cooperation: Jordan has focused on creating forums for working together on trade and development, and issued warnings against renewed tensions. Both positions have been important in safeguarding the space for dialogue about opportunities in the region.

And third, the commitment you have shown to finding solutions to the conflicts in the region. Here at the Dead Sea, where Jordan meets Israel and Palestine, we are reminded that the region has been a melting pot of different peoples for thousands of years.

It has often been a place of conflict and strife. However, there has also been cooperation, peaceful coexistence and a sense of having a common destiny. One of the most pressing issues now is how the Middle East peace process can be revitalized. How can we reopen the space for constructive dialogue?

There can be no lasting peace unless each party respects the other: its legitimate aspirations, its history, culture and its rights. Norway seeks to be a reliable partner in the joint efforts to achieve a lasting political settlement.

I appreciate this initiative by the Peace Research Institute of Oslo and the Center for Strategic Studies in Amman— to bring together experts from Jordan, Norway and the wider region. We are here to listen and learn from your experiences – to exchange ideas and perspectives.

As human beings, we all think and act in different ways. That is why dialogue is so crucial: we gain a better understanding of each other. We become more tolerant of each other’s differences. At the same time, we also have a lot in common. And we have much to learn from each other – which again makes it vital to maintain open spaces for dialogue.

Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to discuss this important topic – in such a suitable setting. I look forward to the final session of this seminar.



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