Queen Rania highlights importance of moderation and understanding

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Her Majesty Queen Rania delivers an address at an award ceremony in Lisbon on Monday, where she received the Council of Europe’s (COE) North-South Prize. His Majesty King Abdullah, Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portuguese Assembly President Jaime Gama, COE Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, COE Parliamentary Assembly President Lluis Maria de Puig and North-South Centre President Claude Frey attended the ceremony (Photo by Nasser Ayoub)

Her Majesty Queen Rania on Monday received the Council of Europe’s (COE) North-South Prize in recognition of her concerted efforts to increase public awareness on global interdependence issues and foster inter-cultural dialogue between Eastern and Western cultures.

Since its inception in 1995, the North-South prize is awarded annually to two laureates, acknowledging their deep commitment and outstanding achievements in the field of human rights, defence of pluralistic democracy and North-South partnership and solidarity.

The 2008 prize was also awarded to Jorge Sampaio, former president of Portugal and High Representative of the United Nations for the Alliance of Civilisations (AOC).

During the ceremony, hosted in the Pal?cio de S?o Bento in Lisbon, Her Majesty lauded the AOC, expressing hope that such dialogue would be a “force of moderation and understanding during times of heightened cross-cultural tensions”.

Queen Rania, who earlier this year launched a YouTube channel in an effort to dismantle pre-existing stereotypes and encourage greater solidarity across the region, referred to her initiative as an attempt to “remind the world of the similarities we all share”.

The Queen, who is accompanying His Majesty King Abdullah on an official visit to Portugal, also highlighted the significance of building mutual trust between the Muslim and Western worlds to better the quality of existing relations and bridge the gap of misunderstanding between them.

Further underlining the importance of promoting compassion, mutual respect and tolerance among nations, the Queen noted that “we are at the beginning of a new age of discovery, an era that sees us connecting openly and rediscovering ourselves and our neighbours”.

In this regard, Her Majesty commended the COE’s white paper, a strategy to increase intercultural dialogue adopted by all 47 COE member states last year as “the best antidote to fear, rejection and violence”.

Recalling an inspirational song from her YouTube channel titled, “Waiting on the World to Change”, featuring Jordanian singer Hanna Gargour and Portuguese Mia Rose, the Queen suggested music and creativity can help “bridge the gap” between cultures.

“Hanna and Mia aren’t just waiting… they’re actively helping the world by engaging with it,” she said.

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portuguese Assembly President Jaime Gama, COE Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, COE Parliamentary Assembly President Lluis Maria de Puig and North-South Centre President Claude Frey attended the award ceremony on Monday.

Previous recipients of the prize include Simone Veil, former president of the European Parliament, and Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, for their contribution to the defence and the promotion of human rights throughout the world.

During her stay in Lisbon, Queen Rania, accompanied by Portuguese First Lady Maria Cavaco Silva, also visited the National Coach Museum which contains an impressive collection of carriages and carts dating back to the 17th century.