Prince Mohamed addresses delegates at NAM Ministerial Meeting

Full text of the statement by His Royal Highness, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade during the General Debate of the Coordinating Bureau for the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana, Cuba on April 29

Mr Chairman, I would like to present my warmest respects to President Castro and my appreciation to him for joining us this morning and for his inspiring address.

I also thank you personally, Mr Chairman, and your staff for the wonderful welcome you have given us and for the excellent arrangements.

At the same time I would like to thank our friends from Iran who did such an excellent job in hosting us at the last Ministerial Meeting.

Lastly, it's a great pleasure to see so many guests from all over the world joining us at our meeting. I add my own welcome to them all, especially our new observer country, Tajikistan.

The number of observers, guests and visitors continues to grow, Mr Chairman. In many ways, this is a tribute to Cuba's leadership over the past three years. It's been good working with your people and we certainly look forward to building on it with our colleagues in Egypt, when they take over in July.

Mr Chairman, before I proceed, I would like to say that I was very pleased with a report I got yesterday. It was from our Economic and Social Commission and it asked us to express our concern about the swine influenza in Mexico and the very serious effect it is having.

We fully support this proposal and send every sympathy to all who have suffered, both in Mexico and other parts of the world. We pray that this alarming epidemic can be contained and defeated as soon as possible.

Mr Chairman, I would like to comment on the economic and financial situation we are facing. In doing so, I offer my special appreciation to our fellow members from India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia who attended the recent G20 summit along, with our observer members, Brazil and Mexico.

I much appreciated their contribution. They not only spoke for their own people but on behalf of us all. What they said in London was the real voice of this Movement. So, many thanks to our colleagues and what I would like to do here, Mr Chairman, is to say something about what the G20 meeting meant for us as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Putting it simply Mr Chairman, we were encouraged by the summit and we have three reasons for that.

First, the overall tone of the meeting. That was something quite new and I liked the kind of words they used.

For me, they were a welcome change. People didn't talk about a "third world". There was no "developed" or "developing," one, either. There were no "donors" and "receivers" of aid and not one of us here was seen as a special problem.

We were all in it together and part of a global solution; in other words, directly involved. I was very happy with that. I liked this new mood, I hope it will last a bit longer than one single meeting.

My second reason for being encouraged, Chairman, concerns the past. If we look back over the last twenty years we have all been listening to one special catch-phrase. It's called "economic spin-off".

This is a complicated idea but what it says is this: "growth in the developed world will automatically benefit everyone else including the nearly four billion people we represent here." But now, we can see that it hasn't worked like that.

The only result is a financial mess.

This benefits no one and the G20 seemed to recognise this. So that's my second reason for being encouraged.

The third and maybe the main one is about the future. I think the Summit could be a very important turning point. It may give us a chance to turn off the old international highway and drive down a different route.

All we have to do is read the signpost. It's very clear and shows two simple words, "justice and fairness":

just and fair United Nations reform;

a just and fair settlement of the sixty years of suffering by the people of Palestine;

a just and fair outcome from the Doha agenda; and

a just and fair completion of the Millennium Development Goals.

In political, social and economic terms, Mr Chairman, it means North and South becoming genuine partners who are ready to work together to solve the many new and complex global problems we are all facing these days, from energy and food supplies, climate change and natural disasters, to international security and real economic development. In other words: for me, Mr Chairman, the G20 showed us this new signpost.

I much appreciate the efforts of our colleagues who were there to make sure it is easy to read. Above all, I hope that no one sees the current financial mess as just another road-block on the highway to be cleared away quickly, so that we can all carry on driving down the same old road in the same old direction.

Instead, there is another route now and if it is taken our present feeling of encouragement can become one of lasting hope and confidence.

This means that we don't want to hear a catch-phrase that says: "Back to Normal". We want one that says: "Forward to Something New".

At the moment, however, Mr Chairman, all this may be wishful thinking. We will soon find out, however. Next month, we will have a clear idea about whether it can be more than that.

There is a United Nations Conference in June on the world's financial and economic crisis and, as our final document here suggests, this will be an immediate test.

So, I look forward to the Conference with hope and quite a few expectations. If it broadens and deepens the mood of the G20 it will give us all even more confidence, that, in turn will give our leaders renewed inspiration when they meet for their own Summit in July.

Thank you. - Borneo Bulletin (3rd May 2009)