Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that political crises have drained the Arab economy, underlining the need to revive cooperation based on the joint Arab action.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Safadi noted that the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit, which was held in Beirut on Sunday, emphasized the importance of economic interdependence, because “economies are interrelated as our security and stability.” He also affirmed that any effort in this regard would serve all Arab countries’ interests.
The Jordanian minister said that overcoming crises in the region was a prerequisite for upgrading economic capabilities.
“Political problems have prevented the achievement of comprehensive growth. We also see that crises have drained many resources and discouraged the youth,” he explained, calling for setting up regional institutional mechanisms that would be immune to political disputes.
Jordan’s economic growth has declined to 2 percent, due to the regional situation, Safadi said, noting that Iraq used to be the biggest market for the Jordanian economy. He stressed that as Iraq achieved victory over terrorism, “we must stand with it in the reconstruction phase.”
On the Syrian file, the foreign minister said that all efforts should be focused on putting an end to the sufferings of the Syrian people.
“Resolving the Syrian crisis is of utmost importance; we must all focus on ending the tragedy that has caused great destruction and suffering, and we all agree that the solution is political,” he stated.
“We also emphasize the need for an effective Arab political role in Syria because the country’s peace and stability serve the interests of the whole Arab nation,” he added.
Elaborating on the Syrian refugees’ crisis that has put severe burdens on Jordan’s economy, Safadi said: “Jordan deals with the refugees as guests, and we offer them as much as we can until they return to their country. In fact, Jordan has a million and three hundred thousand Syrians, and this is a large number that puts enormous pressure on the sectors of health, education and employment.”
While he said his country appreciated the support that has been provided to deal with this issue, he warned that assistance was declining.
“Therefore, we must find the appropriate mechanism to provide the necessary support, to be able to fulfill our duties towards them, because we believe that investing in refugees is an investment in the whole region’s future, security and stability,” according to Safadi.
He explained that Syrian children, who have access to education and healthcare, will form a promising generation who will contribute to rebuilding Syria.
“But if they are abandoned, they will be prone to ignorance, poverty and deprivation, as well as the exploitation by extremist groups,” he warned.
Asked about the outcome of the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in this regard, Safadi noted that an important statement was issued to take into consideration the crisis’ dimensions and risks, adding that the international community has been invited to support the Arab countries hosting the Syrian refugees and to launch development projects to help reduce the relevant economic and social burdens.
The minister also said that the Arab League Secretariat was entrusted with convening a meeting of international donors, specialized organizations and Arab funds with the participation of Arab hosting countries, to agree on a clear and specific mechanism for financing refugee assistance projects.
Commenting on the European-Arab Summit that will be held in Cairo in February, Safadi described it as an important opportunity to promote Arab-European cooperation, adding that Egypt was the best host for this summit.
“Certainly, a summit of this level will address all the issues of the region… mainly the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” he said. “In our view, without a solution that guarantees the Palestinians’ legitimate right to establish their State on their national soil, with East Jerusalem as its capital, there will be no stability in the region.”
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