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The First "Forum for the Future" Will be Held in Morocco

Location: Washington, DC

THE FIRST "FORUM FOR THE FUTURE" WILL BE HELD IN MOROCCO -- (Extensions of Remarks - November 20, 2004)



Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, ministerial-level representatives from at least 30 countries, including the United States, will gather three weeks from now in Rabat, Morocco for the first-ever "Forum for the Future" international conference on reform and development in the Middle East and North Africa. Parallel discussions will also be held between representatives of civil society and the business sectors from within these countries.

The "Forum for the Future" was established by the G-8 summit meeting in Sea Island, Georgia this past June as a permanent mechanism whereby the G-8 countries will engage in dialogue on political, economic, and social reform with the countries of North Africa and the broader Middle East.

In the words of the communiqúe issued by the G-8 leaders on June 9, 2004, the "Forum for the Future ..... will root our efforts in an open and enduring dialogue ..... the Forum will serve as a vehicle for listening to the needs of the region, and ensuring that the efforts we make collectively respond to those concerns."

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, those "concerns" form an enormous agenda for this initial meeting in Morocco, as well as for all subsequent sessions.

In the political sphere, the Forum aims to promote progress in the Middle East and North Africa toward the establishment of democracy and the rule of law, the protection of human rights and basic personal liberties, respect for pluralism and diversity, and the free exchange of ideas.

On the economic front, the Forum seeks to address the desperate problem of unemployment, as well as to expand the private sector within the Middle East and North Africa by means of encouraging entrepreneurship, expanded trade and investment, protection of property rights, and the combating of corruption.

Finally, on social policy, the Forum has targeted the problems of illiteracy and ignorance, by focusing on means by which educational standards can be raised and the accessibility to a good education can be broadened for men and women alike-that last point being especially crucial, as there are so many unresolved difficulties pertaining to the status of women which the Forum also wants to address.

Mr. Speaker, it is particularly appropriate that Morocco should host this inaugural meeting of the "Forum for the Future," because that country has been making great strides forward in all of these areas, and there is much that can be learned by studying the process of reform that is taking place there.

When the G-8 leaders launched the "Forum for the Future" last June, their communiqúe spoke of a "partnership for progress and a common future" with the countries and peoples of North Africa and the broader Middle East.

Every Member who shares that goal-who believes that our own future and security as a nation may ultimately be dependent on the achievement of freedom, stability, and prosperity in a very troubled region-will want to thank Morocco for hosting this important international event, the "Forum for the Future," on December 11, 2004. And we look forward to a successful first step in what the G-8 leaders themselves have described as "a long-term effort ..... a generational commitment."

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