IN­TER­VIEW HRH Prince El-Has­san bin Talal of Jor­dan: We need home­grown so­lu­tions to home­grown prob­lems,

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - By Kerim Balcı

‘From na­tion­al­ism to so­cial­ism, from neo con­ser­vatism to com­mu­nism, our re­cent po­lit­i­cal his­tory has been marked by the frag­mented ex­per­i­men­ta­tion of im­ported hy­brid ide­olo­gies. But what has been hap­pen­ing re­cently was not im­ported; the up­ris­ings have been in­cu­bated and de­vel­oped within the re­gion for over half a cen­tury.’ Prince El-Has­san bin Talal on the Arab Spring For­mer crown prince of Jor­dan, HRH Prince El-Has­san bin Talal has ini­ti­ated, founded and is ac­tively in­volved in a num­ber of Jor­da­nian and in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tutes and com­mit­tees, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus­ing on sci­ence, youth is­sues and in­ter-faith stud­ies. Th­ese in­clude the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) Fo­rum, a non­govern­men­tal, non-par­ti­san civil so­ci­ety ini­tia­tive es­tab­lished in 2009. The WANA Fo­rum brings to­gether re­gional stake­hold­ers from di­verse back­grounds and dis­ci­plines to ad­dress so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic chal­lenges in the area. HRH spoke to Turk­ish Re­view Ed­i­tor-in-Chief Kerim Balcı about his vi­sion and hopes for the re­gion.

Kerim Balcı: The ge­o­graphic area you call WANA over­laps the so-called Greater Mid­dle East map. Is there a relation be­tween the two, or is WANA a kind of re­gional re­ac­tion to US projects to re­shape the re­gion?

Prince El-Has­san bin Talal: Ge­o­graph­i­cally, his­tor­i­cally and cul­tur­ally there is a con­nec­tion be­tween WANA and the Greater Mid­dle East as both, broadly speak­ing, en­com­pass the re­gion span­ning Mau­ri­ta­nia to Pak­istan, Turkey to Ye­men.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween th­ese two terms lies in ori- gin and im­pli­ca­tion. The term Greater Mid­dle East was in­tro­duced by the [US Pres­i­dent George W.] Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion in prepa­ra­tion for the G8 sum­mit of 2004, as part of a pro­posal for a sweep­ing change in the way the West deals with the Mid­dle East. The point of ref­er­ence for such a term is thus US for­eign pol­icy; be­fore that it was Euro­pean for­eign pol­icy.

How­ever, it would be un­fair and in­ac­cu­rate to de­scribe WANA as sim­ply a re­gional re­ac­tion. I would ar­gue that WANA is not a re­ac­tion but a non­govern­men­tal ini­tia­tive com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and di­a­logue. If we were in East Asia, for in­stance, should we not call it “Mid­dle West”? In­deed, if you were to ex­am­ine the Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry, you would note that in place of a Mid­dle East Depart­ment there ex­ists a WANA Depart­ment.

In ad­di­tion to the ge­o­graph­i­cal in­ac­cu­ra­cies of the term Mid­dle East, the Mid­dle East (in its tra­di­tional sense) is a term that lo­cates this re­gion in relation to the geostrate­gic in­ter­ests of the West. It is a def­i­ni­tion by and for an ex­ter­nal ac­tor.

I would ar­gue that the peo­ple in this re­gion, per­haps now more than ever, are be­com­ing the au­thors of their own iden­ti­ties. This can and in­deed should en­tail an iden­tity de­fined not by oth­ers, but by the peo­ple of

the re­gion. It is for this rea­son that I pre­fer the term West Asia and not Mid­dle East.

KB: What are the aims of WANA? Are you able to lead and pro­voke a new in­tel­lec­tual dis­cus­sion in this zone?

HRH: I would imag­ine, although not pre­sume, that the aims of WANA are those of any other re­gion: the es­tab­lish­ment and fair bal­ance of free­dom and se­cu­rity for all. The protests and in­sur­rec­tionary up­ris­ings wit­nessed across the re­gion are, I be­lieve, tes­ta­ment to that fact. It is a move­ment for hu­man dig­nity, ac­cess, op­por­tu­nity, em­pow­er­ment and eq­uity. I would ar­gue that it is the uni­ver­sal­ity of th­ese val­ues that has so dra­mat­i­cally af­fected the tip­ping point of na­tion-states.

This re­gion has not been built by the voice of one in­di­vid­ual, but by the col­lec­tive en­deav­ors of many. We re­quire a process that rec­og­nizes the peo­ple of this re­gion as the true stake­hold­ers of the fu­ture, a process that pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity for all to par­tic­i­pate freely in gov­er­nance and so­ci­ety. And WANA be­lieves in find­ing home­grown so­lu­tions to home­grown prob­lems.

It is for this rea­son that I es­tab­lished the WANA Fo­rum in 2009, as an ini­tia­tive ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing re­gional di­a­logue and in­tel­lec­tual dis­cus­sion, with the aim of bring­ing peo­ple from all sec­tors and so­ci­eties in WANA to­gether. The WANA Fo­rum pro­vides a plat­form upon which we, as a re­gion, can share our ideas, our be­liefs, our cul­ture and our creeds so that we might build a richer re­gional nar­ra­tive, and help make a bet­ter fu­ture for our chil­dren.

THE MAJORITY WANTS AP­PROX­I­MATELY THE SAME THING WHER­EVER YOU LOOK: A SENSE OF DIG­NITY, CON­TROL OVER THEIR OWN DES­TINIES, AND AC­CESS TO OP­POR­TU­NITY

KB: How do you an­a­lyze the wave of popular up­ris­ings in the Arab world? Is this only po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic, or are there in­ter­na­tional forces be­hind the up­ris­ings?

HRH: From na­tion­al­ism to so­cial­ism, from neo con­ser­vatism to com­mu­nism, our re­cent po­lit­i­cal his­tory has been marked by the frag­mented ex­per­i­men­ta­tion of im­ported hy­brid ide­olo­gies. But what has been hap­pen­ing re­cently was not im­ported; the up­ris­ings have been in­cu­bated and de­vel­oped within the re­gion for over half a cen­tury. They have risen largely from the bot­tom up, [car­ried] by a once-si­lenced and in­creas­ingly in­ter­con­nected majority.

It may all end un­evenly. Beyond a doubt, how­ever, is the ex­tent to which an as­so­cia­tive net­work of sub­lim­i­nal images pre­sent­ing this re­gion as bit­ter and big­oted has been shat­tered. Here, peo­ple are pay­ing the ul­ti­mate price for the right to have rights.

Gen­er­at­ing ideas is eas­ier said than done. By lim­it­ing free speech and forc­ing mil­lions of young peo­ple to stay at home with­out jobs, the only pub­lic space left for many peo­ple hap­pens to be a vir­tual one. Arab gov­ern­ments switched their peo­ple off, so their peo­ple con­gre­gated on­line.

What­ever the new wave’s lim­i­ta­tions, its bor­der­less on­line con­ver­sa­tions are off­set­ting the re­gion’s po­lit­i­cal, re­li­gious, so­cial, and cul­tural balka­niza­tion. The peo­ple of WANA are talk­ing among them­selves, even if their gov­ern­ments re­main re­mote. That is new. Although th­ese up­ris­ings are home­grown, in­ter­na­tional forces seem now to have climbed on band­wagon.

KB: What do you sug­gest to the es­tab­lished lead­er­ships of the coun­tries in this re­gion: to go or to make re­forms?

HRH: There is per­haps noth­ing sad­der, more frus­trat­ing and de­bil­i­tat­ing than po­ten­tial not just aban­doned, but ac­tively held down, twisted, repacked and trans­formed into the lan­guage of ei­ther ha­tred or fu­til­ity.

It wasn’t un­til an unas­sum­ing veg­etable seller called Mo­hammed Bouaz­izi doused him­self in petrol and struck a match in Tu­nisia that the Arab imag­i­na­tion awoke to a painful epiphany -- that we were do­ing this to our­selves.

“What wealth we have,” a Druze emir of Mount Le­banon once told a for­eign vis­i­tor in the mid-19th cen­tury, “we spend on in­jur­ing one another.”

A re­gional lack of good gov­er­nance -- a com­plete am­ne­sia to­ward the clas­si­cal and Is­lamic con­cept of the “cit­i­zen” -- in ad­di­tion to the over­bear­ing weight of his­tory, com­pounded by war, all com­bined to cre­ate a vac­uum of hope and a sit­u­a­tion in which in­di­vid­u­als no longer seemed to mat­ter.

Mod­ern­iza­tion will not come by it­self. What we

need is strate­gic re­form. In Novem­ber 2009 the Ewing Mar­ion Kauff­man Foun­da­tion dis­cov­ered that since 1980 vir­tu­ally all new job cre­ation in the US oc­curred in firms less than five years old. That is why in ad­di­tion to find­ing our young peo­ple jobs we should be pro­vid­ing the tools for them to cre­ate their own. What­ever hap­pens, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the rulers and the ruled has changed for the bet­ter. And per­ma­nently.

The fu­ture of WANA re­mains one of po­ten­tial and op­por­tu­nity. The task of the next 10 years should be to de­velop the po­lit­i­cal, dig­i­tal, in­sti­tu­tional and eco­nomic tools to cre­ate a con­vivial com­mu­nity in this re­gion, and to find bet­ter ways of har­ness­ing its cre­ativ­ity, its in­no­va­tion, and in par­tic­u­lar its youth. With con­vivi­al­ity of pur­pose and gen­eros­ity of in­tel­lect, there is no rea­son our fu­ture should not be­come one of ac­com­plish­ment in­stead of one of loss.

IN­STEAD OF CON­STRUCT­ING A THREAD OF LOGIC TO EVENTS, WE SHOULD AC­KNOWL­EDGE OUR OWN POW­ER­LESS­NESS AND FO­CUS ON THOSE VARI­ABLES THAT PER­HAPS WE CAN IN­FLU­ENCE: POVERTY, DE­MO­GRAPH­ICS, WA­TER AND EN­ERGY

KB: So you are op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture of the re­gion?

HRH: I be­lieve that the out­come of this sort of tec­tonic re­align­ment is not just un­pre­dictable but un­know­able. In­stead of con­struct­ing eas­ily di­gestible nar­ra­tives that cre­ate the il­lu­sion of pre­dictabil­ity and con­trol -- a thread of logic to events -- we, and es­pe­cially the West, should ac­knowl­edge our own pow­er­less­ness and fo­cus on those vari­ables that per­haps we can in­flu­ence: poverty, de­mo­graph­ics, wa­ter and en­ergy.

In the 1980s, theo­cratic and au­to­cratic pol­i­tics moved in when oil prices fell and eco­nomic growth fal­tered. To­day we host the world’s high­est earn­ers and its low­est. Peo­ple are not just call­ing out for self­de­ter­mi­na­tion, but for the right to “pur­sue hap­pi­ness” and op­por­tu­nity. This has al­ways been the case; the only dif­fer­ence is that a new gen­er­a­tion has re­al­ized that no-one -- cer­tainly not Wash­ing­ton -- was ready to achieve this for them.

What we’ve been see­ing re­cently, and per­haps what we mean when we talk of the “Arab Street,” is an em­pha­sis on day-to-day is­sues -- the price of fuel, cor­rup­tion, ed­u­ca­tion -- all of which im­pede the right of mil­lions of peo­ple in this re­gion to be happy, lead a bet­ter life, and pro­vide for the next gen­er­a­tion.

Egypt’s youth may have helped top­ple their leader, but they still can’t find jobs, and we still re­gard them […] as a prob­lem to be solved. I would be fasci- nated to learn just what Europe’s de­mog­ra­phy looked like dur­ing the Age of En­light­en­ment or Amer­ica’s dur­ing the post-war years.

We desperately need to work to­gether as a re­gion on wa­ter and en­ergy se­cu­rity, but just as im­por­tantly we need to har­ness, rec­og­nize and re­spect our hu­man en­ergy, es­pe­cially in coun­tries such as Jor­dan. Whether republics or king­doms, the re­gion will now in­creas­ingly be run by its peo­ples and their wishes.

KB: I want to speak about the cul­tural, in­tel­lec­tual and artis­tic con­se­quences of the Arab Spring. Is there a pos­si­bil­ity that the change will in­duce an Arab-Mus­lim re­nais­sance?

HRH: The veils of hypocrisy, ig­no­rance and stag­na­tion have shrouded WANA for far too long. No one pre­dicted the on­go­ing turf war which has pit­ted sul­tanic am­bi­tions and the mod­ern se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus against the Arab Street. The majority wants ap­prox­i­mately the same thing wher­ever you look: a sense of dig­nity, con­trol over their own des­tinies, and ac­cess to op­por­tu­nity.

With this in mind, Richard Florida, the ur­ban stud­ies the­o­rist who fa­mously coined the phrase “the cre­ative class,” re­cently pub­lished some find­ings in re­gard to the re­gion which I hope will not go un­no­ticed.

Broadly speak­ing, Florida con­tends that a cre­ative so­cioe­co­nomic class has been the key driv­ing force of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in all post-in­dus­trial ci­ties, in par­tic­u­lar in the US. Writ­ing in The At­lantic he ob­serves that the high­est per­cent­ages of “cre­ative class” work­ers are found in ad­vanced economies -- the Nether­lands, Sin­ga­pore, Aus­tralia, Scan­di­navia, Bel­gium, Ger­many the UK and Canada.

But he also found that Egypt’s cre­ative class com­prises roughly one-third (33.1 per­cent) of its work­force, on a par with the US (34.8 per­cent). To put this statis­tic in con­text: In 2007 the World In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Or­ga­ni­za­tion es­ti­mated that 11 per­cent of the US’s GDP was de­rived from cre­ative in­dus­tries.

Now many coun­tries in WANA do not col­lect or re­port data on their work­force cat­e­gories, but they do col­lect data on the per­cent­age of young adults en­gaged in ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, which in turn pos­sesses a very large sta­tis­ti­cal cor­re­la­tion with the size of the cre­ative class work­force.

Florida found that sev­eral coun­tries in the re­gion -in­clud­ing Libya -- ranked highly on this in­dex and that ter­tiary enrolment fig­ures in the West Bank (38 per­cent) and Jor­dan (35 per­cent) were higher than they are in Hong Kong (34 per­cent). It is not an “ArabMus­lim” re­nais­sance. It is a re­nais­sance of so­ci­eties.

Coun­tries with high lev­els of hu­man cap­i­tal are usu­ally among the rich­est in the world, but in our re­gion Florida ob­served that “the stan­dard of liv­ing was lower than the cre­ative class and hu­man cap­i­tal lev­els would seem to war­rant.”

For him this dis­con­nect was a “sig­nal of un­re­al­ized eco­nomic po­ten­tial”; a fail­ure to trans­late “tal­ent, cre­ativ­ity and am­bi­tion” into “eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and well-be­ing.”

A mod­ern fea­ture of eco­nomic po­ten­tial -- and hu­man po­ten­tial -- is the kind of en­light­en­ment and re­nais­sance we should be work­ing to­wards in a man­ner mind­ful of the past, but not sub­servient to it.

KB: What about the re­la­tions be­tween the Mus­lim world and the West? Will the Arab Spring, to­gether with the fact that Osama bin Laden has now been elim­i­nated, help re­duce ten­sions be­tween East and West?

HRH: The ten­sions which ex­ist have not been brought about solely by ex­trem­ism or bin Laden. Rather, they are the re­sult of two per­sis­tent fac­tors: oil and the con­flict in Pales­tine. The sur­gi­cal de­par­ture of the chief an­tag­o­nist of the “War on Ter­ror” has brought into sharp re­lief the more than check­ered his­tory of the past 10 years. For the most part it has been a trau­matic decade for the coun­tries of a re­gion I re­fer to as WANA.

There seem to be 1,001 in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the changes sweep­ing across the coun­tries of WANA. One re­sponse that is of­ten heard is a note of cau­tious op­ti­mism, cap­tured in US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s re­cent speech to the US State Depart­ment, when he re­ferred to the “prom­ise of the fu­ture.”

But some­times we also hear the pop­ulist smears that have been ap­plied to West Asia for so long that noth­ing, it seems -- no amount of ex­tra­or­di­nary change -- can si­lence them. After the suc­cess­ful re­volts in Cairo and Tu­nis, the slan­der abated. Soon, how­ever, the old mes­sages de­pict­ing West Asia as ex­treme, fun­da­men­tal­ist and hos­tile to democ­racy again be­gan to in­sin­u­ate them­selves in “the West.”

On the other hand, or­di­nary men and women in “the West” seem to feel an in­stinc­tive sym­pa­thy to­ward their coun­ter­parts in WANA, many of whom are pay­ing the ul­ti­mate price in fight­ing for their rights. Th­ese sac­ri­fices have con­vinced many “Western­ers” that West Asia is alive and well, and that the re­gion’s peo­ple do have an equal claim to the in­alien­able right to life, lib­erty, and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness.

This flash of per­cep­tion has caught the world’s pol­icy ex­perts and an­a­lysts off guard. That, too, is not sur­pris­ing, be­cause the sit­u­a­tion re­mains an amor­phous mix of hope and de­struc­tion.

KB: What lessons the Arabs can take from the Turk­ish ex­pe­ri­ence with de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion and open mar­ket econ­omy?

HRH: I look again at a re­newed Turkey, trad­ing as we speak with Iran, us­ing com­merce to over­come na­tional bound­aries and eth­nic ten­sions in a way that en­cour­ages pros­per­ity and largely peace, and pos­si­bly play­ing a salu­tary role in the vi­o­lence we per­ceive ev­ery day across the bor­der in Syria.

In work­ing to­wards a Mid­dle East eco­nomic com­mu­nity I thank my Turk­ish brothers for propos­ing that we work through the G20; through our re­gional mem­bers, Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia, to make a grand of­fer of fi­nan­cial help to any coun­try of this re­gion, con­tin­gent on their lib­er­al­iz­ing trade in goods and ser­vices, and mak­ing trade and business rules trans­par­ent.

Se­condly the coun­tries who are in­ter­ested in tak­ing up the of­fer should meet to agree what as­sis­tance they will need, with a guid­ing body es­tab­lished to re­view re­quire­ments and progress. The World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WTO) should take ad­van­tage of the Arab Spring to en­er­gize ef­forts to ab­sorb its ob­server mem­bers across the Mid­dle East into the trade or­ga­ni­za­tion, which has the in­fra­struc­ture to pro­vide the nec­es­sary transna­tional gov­er­nance to en­force freer trade.

Thirdly, Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia, hope­fully, will be able to ne­go­ti­ate a free trade agree­ment de­signed to su­per­sede the bi­lat­eral trad­ing re­la­tion­ships that have con­fined trade within the re­gion. This would lay the ba­sis for a mul­ti­lat­eral free trade zone, gov­erned by WTO rules and gov­erned by all WTO sig­na­to­ries in the re­gion. The best les­son is that one can have a “demo- cratic” Is­lamic ex­pe­ri­ence (Turkey) and not nec­es­sar­ily the “ex­trem­ist” Ira­nian ex­am­ple.

KB: The Turk­ish prime min­is­ter is seen as a hero in the Arab streets, but not be­cause of the suc­cesses of Turkey, but be­cause of his harsh crit­i­cism of Is­rael. How long will the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian is­sue con­tinue to de­fine the he­roes of the Arab world?

HRH: The he­roes of the Arab world are of­ten those per­ceived to have the most anti-Is­raeli poli­cies (Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Erdoğan, Hezbol­lah Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Hasan Nas­ral­lah, Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Ah­madine­jad). Solve the Pales­tinian is­sue, and this will be solved too.

KB: Is the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of Turk­ish-Is­raeli re­la­tions help­ful for the Arabs in gen­eral, the Pales­tini­ans in par­tic­u­lar?

HRH: Turkey can still play an im­por­tant role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the long hoped-for steps by Is­rael to restor­ing his­toric re­la­tion­ships, which can serve as a cat­a­lyst for im­proved po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­la­tions across the re­gion as a whole.

Turkey is well ad­vised to main­tain a healthy rela-

tion­ship with all con­sid­ered (Arabs and Is­raelis) or else it will be just another player rather than a po­ten­tial me­di­a­tor.

KB: You are also the pres­i­dent of Al-Mun­tada, the Arab Thought Fo­rum (ATF). This fo­rum deals mainly with Pales­tinian is­sues. Do you re­ally think that un­der con­di­tions of oc­cu­pa­tion Pales­tinian in­tel­lec­tu­als can pre­pare their so­ci­ety for a demo­cratic state?

HRH: Of course: Democ­racy was dreamt up in cir­cum­stances of tyranny. In­deed in some ways trans­for­ma­tion can be less drain­ing thanw re­form; build­ing up is in some ways eas­ier than knock­ing things down.

The ATF deals with many is­sues, in­clud­ing of course Pales­tine. Re­cently the role of youth, the di­rec­tion of the Arab up­ris­ings, as well as re­li­gious ad­her­ence and supra­na­tional com­mu­nity build­ing have all been at the core of what the ATF is work­ing on. The idea was not to cre­ate an ivory tower, but an in­sti­tu­tion that could con­trib­ute re­spect­fully and sen­si­tively to the on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tions in the re­gion.

There was a time when the des­tiny of our re­gion was a one-way street sign posted “peace process.” To­day that street leads in all sorts of di­rec­tions.

THE HE­ROES OF THE ARAB WORLD ARE OF­TEN THOSE PER­CEIVED TO HAVE THE MOST AN­TIIS­RAELI POLI­CIES: SOLVE THE PALES­TINIAN IS­SUE, AND THIS WILL BE SOLVED TOO

KB: How do you see the un­rest in Syria? At what point should the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in­ter­vene as they did in Libya?

HRH: What’s hap­pen­ing in Syria is de­plorable. But the world is watch­ing.

The prob­lems of WANA can­not be solved from the air, be­cause they be­gin on the ground. In­ter­ven­tion -hu­man­i­tar­ian or oth­er­wise -- is all very well as long as it does not be­come a Tro­jan horse for other mo­tives.

What this re­gion needs is a pre­ven­tive par­a­digm, not an in­ter­ven­tion­ist one, based on soft and not hard power and able to cre­ate an in­sti­tu­tional le­gal, pro­fes­sional, ed­u­ca­tional and cul­tural co­coon for those who have fallen not so much be­tween the cracks as into the abyss. Hu­man ca­pac­ity should be made a lit­tle more in­de­pen­dent of state ca­pac­ity. And Syria is another ex­am­ple of se­lec­tive in­ter­na­tional in­volve­ment. It’s too of­ten not prin­ci­ples but in­ter­ests…

KB: We know that you have been pro­mot­ing a supra­na­tional eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion body in the re­gion. How re­al­is­tic is your project?

HRH: If that project does seem un­re­al­is­tic, then there is all the more rea­son to worry.

To­day WANA’s wealth ex­ists in for­eign port­fo­lios abroad. Cap­i­tal and in­vest­ment need to be brought back into the WANA re­gion. Our wa­ter and en­ergy re­sources are shared and de­plet­ing. They take no ac­count of na­tional bound­aries, and yet this nat­u­ral or ge­o­graphic in­ter­de­pen­dence, which does rep­re­sent a cred­i­ble threat to global se­cu­rity, has never been ad­dressed on a supra­na­tional ba­sis. In the af­ter­math of two dev­as­tat­ing world wars, Jean Mon­net and Robert Schu­man forged the Euro­pean Coal and Steel Com­mu­nity, to weld a re­luc­tant Europe to­gether through eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion. Can we not do the same by cre­at­ing a “com­mu­nity for wa­ter and en­ergy for the hu­man en­vi­ron­ment”?

What is stop­ping us from achiev­ing what the Strate­gic Fore­sight Group, in part­ner­ship with the WANA Fo­rum, has dubbed Blue Peace?

It would be won­der­ful if co­he­sion funds -- mod­eled on the way the EU in­vests money to pro­mote de­vel­op­ment in its poorer mem­bers, ad­min­is­tered trans­par­ently and with­out sticky fin­gers -- could be pre­sented by the Arab League to the UN Assem­bly.

KB: Do you think Turkey should be a part of this supra­na­tional body you are pro­mot­ing, given the fact that all other coun­tries speak Ara­bic and are dom­i­nantly Arab, whereas Turkey is not?

HRH: Do they speak the same lan­guage in the 27 EU coun­tries? Lan­guage should never be a bar­rier.

KB: Do you find the cul­tural, in­tel­lec­tual co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Turkey and the Arab world sat­is­fac­tory?

HRH: We need to invest in WANA as a re­gion, but that in­vest­ment should be holis­tic: in­tel­lec­tual, en­vi­ron­men­tal, cul­tural and not just eco­nomic. Turkey could be in­stru­men­tal in help­ing to get this re­gion not just talk­ing but work­ing with it­self. WANA for all its bless­ings re­mains a dys­func­tional fam­ily. Few other coun­tries are as well placed as Turkey to stage an in­ter­ven­tion.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Prince Has­san Bin Talal

speaks dur­ing the open­ing of the Arab Women and Fu­ture Out­look Con­fer­ence in Am­man. (Nov. 5, 2007).

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