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Excerpts from David Cameron's Speech in Kuwait

Excerpts from David Cameron's Speech in Kuwait

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday February 22 2011

    Prime Minister David Cameron today delivered a speech on Britain’s relationship with the Middle East to the National Assembly in Kuwait.

Below are excerpts from his speech, which you can read in full here.

“…once again this region is the epicentre of momentous changes, but pursued in a very different way. History is sweeping through your neighbourhood. Not as a result of force and violence, but by people seeking their rights, and in the vast majority of cases doing so peacefully and bravely. Across the Arab World, aspirations are stirring which have lain dormant.”

“It is too early to say how things will turn out.  Too often, in the past, there has been disappointment. But there are some grounds for cautious optimism. Optimism, because it is the people – especially the young people – who are speaking up. It is they who are choosing to write their history – and doing so for the most part peacefully and with dignity. It is they who are showing that there is more to politics in this region than the false choice sometimes presented between repression and extremism.”

“It is not for us to tell you how to do it, or precisely what shape your future should take. There is no single formula for success, and there are many ways to ensure greater, popular participation in Government. We respect your right to take your own decisions, while offering our goodwill and support.”

“…crucially, far from running counter to these vital interests of prosperity and security, I believe that political and economic reform in the Arab world is essential not just in advancing these vital shared interests but as a long term guarantor of the stability needed for our relationship to strengthen and for both our societies to flourish.”

On security, the PM said:

“Advancing our shared economic interests also requires security and stability.”

“The continued failure of the Middle East Peace Process to achieve justice for Palestinians or security for Israelis the threat of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon and the growing threat from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are not just security problems for the region, but security problems shared by the whole world.”

“We need to see an urgent return to talks so that people’s legitimate aspirations for two states can be fulfilled through negotiations. Just as the Palestinian Authority needs to shoulder its responsibility to tackle violence from the West Bank Israel needs to meet its Road Map obligation to halt illegal settlement activity as the Resolution Britain supported at the UN Security Council last Friday underlines.”

“The result should be two states, with Jerusalem as the future capital of both, and a fair settlement for refugees. This is not just a problem of rights, territories and people, complicated as they are it is a recruiting sergeant for terror an excuse for authoritarianism and a cause of deep-rooted instability. A lasting settlement would be the greatest step along a new path for this region. The same unity of purpose and message is necessary for the threat coming from Iran.”

On ‘meeting the threat of extremism’, the PM said:

“In understanding the nature of the threat to our security we cannot ignore the threat to all our countries from international terrorism.”

“Indeed, I believe this is the most important global threat to our security. And it comes from a warped extremist ideology that tries to set our societies against each other by radicalising young Muslims all across the world.”

“Let me be clear. I am not talking about Islam. Islam is a great religion, observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. I am talking about the extremist ideology of a small minority. An ideology that wants a global conflict between Muslims and the rest of the world, and in the process sets Muslims against Muslims. It is this extremism that is the source of the global terrorist threat.

“Now, of course, increasing our security co-operation is a vital part of how we meet this threat. And above all it is vital that we challenge the warped thinking that fuels the extremist ideology. But as I argued in Munich earlier this month, we, in the West, must also do much better at integrating young Muslims into our society.

“People should have a positive identity with the country in which they are living. We in Europe have to recognise that without a society to integrate with or a proper sense of  belonging our Muslim communities risk becoming isolated and young Muslims in particular  become more prone to the poisonous narrative of separateness and victimhood that can lead to extremism.”

On the recent developments in the Middle East and their implications, he said:

“For decades, some have argued that stability required highly controlling regimes, and that reform and openness would put that stability at risk.  So, the argument went, countries like Britain faced a choice between our interests and our values.  And to be honest, we should acknowledge that sometimes we have made such calculations in the past. But I say that is a false choice.

“As recent events have confirmed, denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability, rather the reverse. Our interests lie in upholding our values – in insisting on the right to peaceful protest, in freedom of speech and the internet, in freedom of assembly and the rule of law. But these are not just our values, but the entitlement of people everywhere; of people in Tahrir Square as much as Trafalgar Square.”

“If people’s hunger for a job and a voice are denied there is a real risk that the frustration and powerlessness people feel and the resulting lack of connection with the way their country is run: can open the way to them being cut off from society or worse drawn to more violent and extremist responses. That’s a problem for the Arab world but it’s a problem for the rest of the world too.  

“That’s why I think political and economic reform in the Arab world is not just good in its own right but it’s also a key part of the antidote to the extremism that threatens the security of us all.

“Reform, far from undermining stability is a condition of it.”

Outlining how he believed economic and political reform could be supported, Cameron said:

“I believe two things are important. The first is to understand that democracy is a process not an event. And important though elections are, participatory government is about much more than the simple act of voting. Democracy is the work of patient craftsmanship it has to be built from the grassroots up. The building blocks have to be laid like the independence of the judiciary, the rights of individuals, free media and association, and a proper place in society for the army. It can’t be done overnight.”

“My second belief is this. Political and economic reform is vital but it has to be pursued with Al E’htiram with respect for the different cultures, histories and traditions of each nation. We in the West have no business trying to impose our particular local model. The evolution of political and economic progress will be different in each country. But that’s not an excuse, as some would argue, to claim that Arabs or Muslims can’t do democracy – the so-called Arab exception. For me that’s a prejudice that borders on racism. It’s offensive and wrong, and it’s simply not true.”

“This movement for change is not about Western agendas it’s about the Arab people themselves standing up and saying what they want to happen. And it’s about governments engaging in dialogue with their people to forge a way forward, together. The security and prosperity of t
his region will come hand-in-hand with development towards more open, fair and inclusive societies.”


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