SHARM EL-SHEIKH: In his inaugural speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East in Sharm El-Sheikh Sunday, President Hosni Mubarak called on all heads of state, decision-makers and economic leaders to face the global challenges that are hindering stability and prosperity worldwide, including achieving peace on the Palestinian front.
“The world is at crossroads, Mubarak said. Rising global food prices, climate change and energy issues, the sustainability of the economy, inflation, the international financial order and political instability are pressing issues that cannot be ignored.
“The underprivileged are facing the consequences of these challenges in all countries, developed and underdeveloped alike, he said.
The WEF takes place amid these crucial challenges and world leaders must take this meeting as an opportunity to find “rapid solutions, particularly to deal with the global food crisis and to find alternative sources of energy sources.
At the WEF in Sharm El-Sheikh two years ago, Mubarak had called for a better world for the new generation, one with more justice that secures a better life for the people. “Since the last time I spoke here, the Middle East has witnessed notable development, using its abundant resources, he said.
However, he admitted that the Middle East was not equally successful when it came to tackling the issues of terrorism, human trafficking, money laundering and, most importantly, social justice.
“With the WEF’s theme this year being ‘Learning from the Future,’ we should not forget to also learn from the past and present. We have achieved aspirations in the IT domain resulting in globalization and have defeated theories that talked of the clash of civilizations and end of the world, Mubarak said.
He called on countries to reconsider the global front and learn from the past.
“There are several scenarios set for the future and we have to choose, he said.
“Egypt has chosen the reform scenario on all fronts, to work on peace and fulfill all the requirements to achieve a true democratic state, he said.
Egypt’s reforms that “spring from the inside started four years ago and have garnered achievements such as a three-year GDP increase of 7 percent, the increase of foreign direct investment to $11 billion and the decrease of the unemployment rate to 8.8 percent.
To continue this growth, Egypt must also face the challenges of social justice and continue to make reforms on the economic front. “We encourage trade and investment with everyone, he said.
Talking politics, Mubarak asserted that Egypt chooses peace. “We will not hesitate to support it and we will keep working on it with unwavering persistence, he said.
The Israel-Palestine conflict will continue to top Egypt’s agenda and “it is the key to achieving stability in the Middle East, he said.
“I look forward to [US President George] Bush’s promise to achieve peace, in cooperation with Palestine and Israel, before the end of his term, he said. This will be coupled with Egyptian efforts to try and end “60 years of Palestinian agony.
Mubarak stressed that Arab states wouldn’t support a peace deal that doesn’t meet the demands of the Palestinians.
“Anyone who believes that cover will be provided for an agreement that does not fulfill the demands of [the Palestinians] is mistaken, Mubarak said. “We must all recognize that Abu Mazen needs support to achieve peace.
The Middle East’s stability and prosperity are part of the overall global stability, he said.
Although the future scenarios might be different for various nations, “we are all united in the hope that we aim for prosperity and peace for us and our people, he concluded.