The Urgent Tasks before Our Tehran Assembly; (Speech at the Seventh General Assembly of the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace (AAPP), Tehran, Iran, 12-14 November 2006.)

Manila Bulletin, November 17, 2006 | Go to article overview

The Urgent Tasks before Our Tehran Assembly; (Speech at the Seventh General Assembly of the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace (AAPP), Tehran, Iran, 12-14 November 2006.)


Byline: Speaker JOSE DE VENECIA Philippine House of Representatives Chairman, Senior Advisory Council, AAPP

MR. President, Speaker Gholam Ali Hadad-Adel, I am sure I speak for all our delegations when I express my gratitude to you - and to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran - for graciously hosting here in historic Tehran this Seventh General Assembly of our Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace (AAPP).

Mr. President - Under the guidance of Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei and the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and of yourself, as Speaker of Parliament, Iran is emerging as a unique political power - one with spiritual authority that extends well beyond its secular frontiers.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has become a power for peace - in the Middle East and in the world. And my delegation believes - Mr. President - that our Association - the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace - should invoke and mobilize the moral authority that Iran possesses for its own efforts to serve the cause of peace in Asia and in the world.

In a modest way, that was what my country - the Philippines - was able to do, in November 2004, when, in inspired partnership with Iran, it successfully sponsored a Resolution in the UN General Assembly binding the United Nations to promote interfaith dialogue as a way of resolving politicoreligious conflicts, strengthening the religious moderates, and isolating those who advocate terrorism in the name of religion.

Our urgent need for an Asian Parliamentary Assembly

Mr. President - Our 38 member-Parliaments have come a long way in their collective effort to bring Asia together - and to realize our peoples' hopes of peace, fraternity, and mutual prosperity.

So that now, Mr. President, we in the AAPP's Senior Advisory Council and in the Philippine delegation see Asia's growing strategic and economic importance as compelling us to consider seriously its economic - and political - integration.

Indeed, the world's centre of economic and political gravity is shifting toward our continent. For in today's Asia are to be found not only the fastest-growing economies but also the rising powers of our time.

Over these past five years, Asia has been a driver of the global economy. Since 2001, our continent has accounted for over half the world's economic growth.

No longer does Asia catch a cold every time that America and the Western Powers sneeze.

But if Asia is the region of the greatest opportunities for business-people, Mr. President, it is also still the region with the greatest risk of major armed conflict.

To avert the threats of conflict - and to enhance the opportunities of development - our governments and the parliaments in AAPP must consult more systematically than they are now able to do.

And this work of harmonizing Asia's growing interdependence - Mr. President - a true Asian Parliament can help undertake.

This Assembly must lay down action-programs the AAPP will carry out during this transition.

Mr. President - I do not minimize the difficulties of organizing - and operating - a supra-national legislature in our fractured continent.

But we cannot continue to ignore our practical need to manage the growing economic and political interdependence among our countries.

Following the approval in principle - by our 2004 Islamabad Assembly - of our proposal to convert the AAPP into an Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) within five years, this Tehran Assembly must now lay down the action-programs the AAPP is to carry out during this transition period.

Our member-Parliaments have easily accepted the idea of Asian integration - following well-established precedents not only in Europe but also in Latin America and in Africa.

But I expect that, for historical reasons, it will be more difficult to convince our national constituencies of our urgent need for political integration. …

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