The Emir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his consort Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Misnad sponsored on Monday 23 April 2007 the opening of the Doha 7th Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade.
The opening of the Forum was attended by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani.
A number of Their Excellencies sheikhs and ministers together with the Speaker of the Advisory Council, several heads of diplomatic missions in Doha, ranking officials, guests and businessmen attended the opening of the forum.
“I welcome you all to the Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade in its seventh session. Since its 1st session, your Forum has passed through a period of time which I consider enough to review the progress of the basic issues with which the forum is concerned,” His Highness said in his opening speech.
“What has been achieved so far in democracy is not up the aspired level. Of late, there has even been a sort of lassitude and slackness in pushing forward the reform process with the pretext that the conditions in the region do not allow.”
“It is true that the prevalent circumstances in the Middle East are still highly sensitive and complicated. However, that is not a justification for evading the democratic process. The region had previously experienced the deferring, if not freezing, comprehensive reform for many years, using all kinds of pretexts until its problems piled up and its crises increased,” His Highness said.
“Therefore, it should not make the same mistake again under the false impression that the relative abatement in the international concern about the advancement of democracy in the area would bring things back to their previous stagnation,” he added.
“The greatest mistake, in my judgment, is to subject the progress toward democracy or retreat from it to messages coming to the region from abroad, or to the degree of external interest in its affairs, or to external pressures put upon it.”
“This is an immature conception that ignores the free will of the people and their right to live a sound political life where freedoms are respected and where all people enjoy all rights, on top of which is the right to participation in public affairs,” his highness told the Forum audience.