Sayeeda Warsi: OIC Speech

The Rt Hon Baroness Warsi, Thursday 30th June 2011

Speaking at the OIC Foreign Minister’s Conference as the first British Government Minister

(Check against delivery)

It is a great honour to be invited to speak at the OIC Foreign Minister’s Conference – the first time that a British Government Minister has ever had this privilege.

I am equally delighted to be here in Kazakhstan for the first time…

…a country as Chairman you told me when we met on Monday is home to the Samosa and Pilau Rice.

A fortnight ago I had the privilege to host His Excellency, Secretary-General Ihsanoglu, and his team, on their first official visit to the UK.

We held a number of meetings which included the Prime Minister David Cameron, the Foreign Secretary William Hague…

…and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, amongst others in a wide ranging programme.

We in Britain recognise the importance of building on our relationships with the Muslim world.

And that is why we have appointed a new Special Representative to the OIC to be based in Jeddah.

Our participation at this conference demonstrates that commitment. So thank you once again for giving us this opportunity.


Today we share many global challenges: economic uncertainty; global security; climate change and the continuing need to help the poorest in the world.

In today’s ever changing world, we can either face these challenges together, together in unity with greater effectiveness, or as people we will grow apart.

And sadly there are extremists who would prefer just that.

There are those that claim that the West is at war with Islam.

Or that Islam has no place in the West. They claim Islam and Democracy do not mix, and will never mix.

As a British Cabinet Minister, as a British Muslim…

…as the daughter of immigrant, whose father came to the UK from Pakistan, who taught his children the value of education, who built a successful businesss…

…as someone who crosses those so-called insurmountable divides…

I am proud to say that nothing could be further from the truth.

And when we look at our actions overseas…

It is the largely Muslim civilians in Benghazi…

…who are demonstrating such a strong desire to live free of oppression and brutality…

…that spurred the international community into acting in their support and defence.

It is the largely Muslim people of Kabul and Helmand…

…who have suffered generations of war and destruction, who aspire simply for a better future, rather than conflict and bloodshed…

…that drives the international community’s commitment for a stable Afghanistan.

And it is the young Muslim women in the Punjab, and their dreams for an opportunity to learn…

…which drives the international communities investment in the Pakistani education system.

Your excellencies my story, the story of my country, the story of our actions overseas…

… categorically sends a resounding “no” to those who talk about a “clash of civilisations”

We face global challenges which we can be meet…

… if we work together in partnership.

A partnership based on trust, mutual respect and honesty.


This year, will be remembered for the start of the Arab Spring.

For an awakening across the region.

For an answer to those who say the Middle East has no appetite for reform.

The seeds of democracy have been sown…

… and I recognise that of course it will take time before they flower.

Change is never easy. And real change will take time.

But one thing is certain. The type of change will differ in each country.

In each country it will take its own route;

it will find its own way; and it will be driven by the people in those countries.

No two democracies look the same.

In these uncertain times, the UK Government and the international community stands ready to work with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa in partnership…

…to build a more stable and prosperous future for the region.

Through our Arab Partnership, we will provide £110m to support political and economic reforms across the region.


Your excellencies, the security challenge we face in Afghanistan will require a long-term enduring Partnership.

This partnership will require the contribution of ordinary Afghans, the contribution of regional allies, and the contribution of the international community.

My guarantee to you is this. We will stay the course in Afghanistan.

And although by 2015 UK forces will no longer be in a combat role or in the numbers they are now in Afghanistan…

…but the UK remains committed to a strong, long term partnership with Afghanistan based on diplomacy, trade and development.

We will continue to stand by the Afghan people in their difficult journey to reconciliation.

Most importantly we must recognize this is a long-term commitment.

There are no short term fixes.

We, alongside our allies, will build a Long Term Partnership with Afghanistan, giving our lasting support long after 2015.


This brings me to a country I know well.

A country I’ve visited 4 times in the last 12 months – most recently with the UK Prime Minister David Cameron in April.

Pakistan which is an important ally in the uk.

I recognise ordinary Pakistanis simply want an education, jobs and security.

They want to live their free from terror and bloodshed.

The UK’s unbreakable bond with Pakistan means we will stand with the nation during its difficult times.

That is why we have upgraded our relationship to an “enhanced partnership”.

That is why we have made Pakistan our Largest development partner. That is why we pledge to increase bilateral trade to 2.5bn per year.

That is why we have such strong co-operation against terrorism.


Your Excellencies, this is a special time in history.

In the past we have been accused of only pursuing “transactional relationships”. But, today let recognise we believe in “lasting friendships”.

Let’s become strategic partners. Partners in trade. Partners in development. Partners in global security.

Let’s affirm our commitment to one another.

Your excellencies our destinies are intertwined. Our futures interlinked.

Travel, trade and new media have brought us closer together.

And I know when we work together, act together, we are on course to help solve some of the greatest challenges we face.

Let’s build a future for today and tomorrow. And build a world, better than the one we found.

So if there is a message I’d like you to take away today it is simply this.

In 2011, the UK didn’t come to this conference and simply say Assalamualaikum, she also said Nureedo An Matha aa Wana Ma aan.