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Arab World ready for reforms, Amr Moussa says
2005-06-29 11:41:49

Nicosia, Jun 29 (CNA) -- The end of the cold war and the globalisation are the main reasons that lead Arab countries to the willingness to revise their social and political systems and to express their readiness to follow the path for modernization and democratization, Secretary General of the League of Arab States Amr Moussa has said.

The former Egyptian Foreign Minister also expressed the opinion that in the next few years there would be a lot of changes in the systems of the Arab countries and added that when the Palestinian question is resolved the Middle East would be transformed into a very different region.

''I have the hope that in the next few years a vital process of reform will start to transform the Middle East to a totally different region'' Moussa said, addressing a gathering yesterday at the Cyprus College in Nicosia on the subject ''The 2005 Middle East Symposium on Negotiation and Conflict''.

Moussa, who leaves today after an official visit to Cyprus at the invitation of the island's Foreign Minister George Iacovou, made a reference to the immediate priorities of the League, namely terrorism, poverty, democratization of the Arab world, Iraq, Iran, the Middle East, criticising the US, the UN and Israel.

''The end of the cold war made us start thinking about our future and about change. Others may add that the need of the Arab world for change is due to globalization, the information revolution, the fall of totaletarian regimes, even the US, although I do not agree with the latter. Maybe this need has its roots to a combination of all those factors'', he noted.

Moussa cited Lebanon as an example for free elections and referred to the elections in Kuwait, the encouraging changes in Sudan, the women's rights and stressed the need for a quick resolution of the Palestinian question saying that a lot depends now on Israel and that the solution should be just and not imposed on the people by foreign forces.

Among the priorities of the Arab world for the next years is the democratization of the Arab world, their modernization, the free market, the settlement of the Palestinian question, the participation of the League in issues concerning Iraq, social and economic development, as well as the understanding between different cultures and religions.

''As you may have noted, I have not mentioned terrorism as our immediate priority. Not because terrorism should not be combated, it should of course, but this problem has to be seen as part of solving major political problems in the region'', he said.

Noting that terrorism is not the father of all plagues, Mousa said that poverty and mal nutrition are more crucial world issues that have to be solved, adding that deaths caused by terrorism are far less than the ones caused by poverty and mal nutrition.

Referring to the regional security he noted that the region should become a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, stressing that this should be implemented in all countries.

''Iran has the right to use neuclear power for peaceful means. The Arab world should be free of weapons of mass destruction. There should be no exemptions in this. It should be implemented by all states, including Israel'', he said.

Referring to the situation in Iraq, Moussa expressed his disappointment, saying ''we were told that Iraq would be an example of democracy. But see with your eyes the real situation now''.

Iraq is a destabilization factor in the region, he said, adding that there should be a sound programme for reconstruction, a reconciliation process and a clear UN and Arab League role.

''The Arab world will continue its efforts that there is understanding between us and the US. The UN and the US should listen to our views regarding Palestine, Iraq, etc, and not only listen one party alone'', he noted.

Asked by a participant at the seminar whether the Arab League ''is still there'', Moussa said, ''you should have asked whether the UN Security Council is still there, because it failed in some areas''.

About social and economic development, Moussa noted the European Union's contribution, especially regarding the Union's Euromediterranean Partnership.

Present at the seminar were Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou, Ambassadors of Syria, the Ukraine, Spain, Egypt, as well as students, mostly foreign students, who participate in the monthly programme of the symposium, co-organized by the Cyprus College and the Institute for International Mediation and Conflict Resolution.

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