Prince hails NAM Movement as heritage

His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, accompanied by Pengiran Anak Mansurah Izzul Bolkiah Monday afternoon attended the opening ceremony of the Commemorative Meeting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Non-Aligned Movement held at the national assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade.

The meeting was opened by President Boris Tadic of the Republic of Serbia and chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Kamal Amr, of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement.

His Royal Highness attended a dinner hosted by President Boris Tadic of the Republic of Serbia at the General Secretariat.

Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah attended a separate dinner for spouses of Heads of Delegations hosted by Ambassador Ivan Mrkic, State Secretary of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Following is the statement delivered by HRH Prince Mohamed yesterday:

"I would like to thank President Tadic for his opening statement and Minister Jeremic for his kind welcome. I also thank the Mayor and People of Belgrade.

"Belgrade is linked forever to the Non-Aligned Movement and it is a pleasure to be here on this very special occasion.

"I would also like to congratulate the people at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Egypt on the outstanding history of the Movement they produced last year. It was a wonderful contribution and I very much appreciated it.

It took us on a long journey from 1955 to today and it is not just the Movement's journey. It was our peoples.

"It is their own journey and their own history. Back in the 1950's, they numbered half the world but they took no part in its decisions. They were the children of those times. They were seen but not heard. Then, the Non-Aligned Movement came and their voice was heard.

"So, what I think we are recognising today is more than a moment in history, it is a heritage that belongs to our people and it is a precious one. It comes from the Principles of Bandung which were re-affirmed here in Belgrade at the first Conference in 1961.

"If we look at them now, they are a Charter for International Relations. They represent the fullest and deepest meaning of sovereignty. In fact, they are the reason why much of the political injustice of the mid and late 20th Century has been removed and, for that, we honour the Movement's founders and their vision.

"At the same time, we would like to thank all the chairmen who have led us since we joined nearly 20 years ago. Each has made sure that all the Movement's efforts are made in the interest of the people.

"With that in mind, Mr Chairman, I would like to end by referring to the letter you wisely sent a few weeks ago. It showed fine leadership and I was most grateful to receive it. It reminded us that our work is ongoing and not all the injustices of the past century have been removed.

"So, even though we are here to respect our past, it cannot be fully honoured until one deep injustice is finally ended. This, of course, is the situation faced by the people of Palestine.

"As you rightly stated, it is a core issue for our Movement and we used this term ourselves in 1994, when we established diplomatic relations with Palestine. As such, it will always be our approach to any resolution on this matter before the United Nations.

"The non-aligned principles we are here to honour demand no less.

"Thank you and my thanks again to President Tadic and the Government of Serbia and my warmest appreciation to the people of Belgrade." - Borneo Bulletin (7th September 2011)