Thursday, 21 March 2013

Monarchy will remain an emblem of national unity — King

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Wednesday said that the monarchy will maintain its role in Jordan as a symbol for national unity, a voice for all and will defend the basic values of Jordan’s identity. In an interview with The Associated Press Amman Bureau Chief Jamal Halaby, His Majesty said that the key objective of the monarchy is to protect the prosperity and stability of the country, in addition to its unity and security. “The monarchy’s paramount objective is to safeguard Jordan’s prosperity, stability, security and unity, and work for the well-being of Jordanians, so they can meet their aspirations.” The King described the upcoming phase as a new chapter in the Kingdom’s history, and pointed to other powers that help shape the future. “We are writing a whole new chapter in our history, and I am not writing it alone — the people and their representatives, political forces, civil society are writing it with me,” he said. Talking about the reforms, the King said: “Our reform roadmap has a clear trajectory, with milestones and prerequisites. Part of this trajectory involves keeping on developing our electoral system, through our constitutional institutions, so that it becomes more representative, maintains pluralism, provides a level playing field, and is conducive to the formation of party-based parliamentary governments.” His Majesty spoke about the economic challenges Jordan is facing, attributing it partly to the international financial crisis, the Arab Spring and the Syrian conflict, among other things. “The global crisis had already hit our economy, then came the Arab Spring — tourism and investments slowed, and then Syrian refugees further strained our resources and infrastructure, trade through Syria all but halted,” His Majesty said. “The coup de grace was the interruption in the supply of Egyptian gas, accounting for almost 80 per cent of our electricity generation needs, at a time of globally record-high oil prices. This alone has been costing the government more than $2b a year.” The King underlined the costs of hosting around 500,000 Syrian refugees “or 9 per cent of our population. It’s as if over 30 million refugees flooded into the US, the majority having crossed in less than 12 months”. Direct costs of hosting Syrian refugees are $550 million annually at current refugee levels, which are expected to almost double over the next six to eight months. His Majesty expressed concern about the possibility that “the radicalisation of Syria, together with the deadlock in the peace process, would ignite the entire region. Another extremely dangerous scenario is the fragmentation of Syria, which would trigger sectarian conflicts across the region for generations to come”. He also detailed how Jordan is operating within the limits of the Arab and international consensus, adding that he is “totally against sending Jordanian troops inside Syria and this has always been Jordanian policy. I am also against any foreign military intervention in Syria”. The King expressed doubt that Bashar Assad could ever “pull the country back to its feet”. “I believe we are past that point; too much destruction, too much blood. But ultimately this is something for the Syrian people to determine. The key question is whether Syria will plunge into chaos or there will be a transition, and what kind of transition this would be,” His Majesty said.


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