Istanbul, 23 March 2012

It is a great honour to be with you today – and I want to express my most sincere gratitude to the University leadership for this honorary doctorate.

Indeed, occasions like these are happy ones – but the honour is heightened when it is a respected institution such as Fatih University that is recognizing and appreciating the leadership in Rwanda, and our modest contribution to the world we live in.

Let me say at the outset that, in many ways, this honour reflects the efforts of the Rwandan people who, for the last 17 years, have worked together to restore peace, security and national unity and reconciliation. They have managed to overcome serious adversity and have now embraced our nation’s collective aspirations for development and prosperity.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;

I am sure you agree with me that we live in challenging times characterised by phenomenal change. And although the change may be at a breathless pace, the 21st century also offers us, and future generations, opportunities that we should seize to influence the direction of change in order to maximise its benefits to humankind.

The ability to influence events has always been the hallmark of any enduring civilisation. Throughout history, there have been changes that have propelled societies to a higher level of development. Some have been faster and sometimes they have been accompanied by crisis and upheaval. Others have been gradual and peaceful.

But whichever sort, change must be managed and directed in order to move forward and maintain equilibrium within and among states. And to manage and influence it in a collectively beneficial manner, leaders need long-term vision, an understanding of their society’s situation and the ability to motivate their people to keep working for prosperity and peace.

The people of modern Turkey know this very well because you have had such visionary leaders going back to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – and the results in your country show this.

In Rwanda, leaders and citizens are working together to transform our country to a level where we can enjoy high standards of living. We believe that with the examples available and increasing collaboration with institutions such as this university, that transformation will happen faster.

I am glad to be talking about the power of leadership and knowledge in harnessing change to benefit human kind at a university where leaders in various fields are formed. You have the opportunity and even duty to use this exposure to influence events in your own country and also reach out to other parts of the world to create better and closer relations.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen; Dear Students:

The 21st Century has been marked by several things that have impacted individual nations and also relations between nations.

First has been the global economic crisis – particularly in the international financial system and the euro zone.