Qatar free trade conference opens
on Democracy and Free Trade, Qatari
Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al
Thani has stressed reforms should be
genuine and not in response to
Addressing some 500 prominent
figures attending the Doha
conference on Tuesday, the amir said
it was not enough to introduce
"partial amendments to avoid
criticism or ease pressure".
Reform now has "new supporters ...
after only few voices pinned hopes
on the birth of the era of democracy
in the region", he told participants
from some 50 countries at the
forum's fifth edition.
Delegates at the meetings include US
congressmen and European lawmakers,
with France sending a 50-strong
In an address to the gathering read
by Secretary of State for State
Reform Eric Woerth, French President
Jacques Chirac stressed that reforms
must come from within, a point often
made by leaders of the Gulf region.
While France encourages reform in
the Arab world, "it knows that
changes must come from inside and
take place at the pace chosen by
each of the countries of the
region", he said.
"Every reform initiative must be
based on the expectations and needs
of states and civil societies," the
French leader said.
He also said a fairer distribution
of wealth was a prerequisite to
"In an increasingly globalised
economy, our common efforts must
reconcile the requirements of
political reform and economic
justice," he said.