Transcript: Diane Sawyer Interviews Queen Rania

ABC News? Diane Sawyer interviews Queen Rania of JordanIda Mae Astute/ABC
ABC News? Diane Sawyer interviews Queen Rania of Jordan.

Queen Rania of Jordan sat down for an interview with "Good Morning America" co-anchor Diane Sawyer Sept. 22, 2009. The following transcript of their interview has been edited for clarity.

DIANE SAWYER: Your Majesty, welcome again.

QUEEN RANIA:

Thank you.

SAWYER:

Just a quick question about the news of the day, because as we know, the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas is meeting with President Obama and with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. The president has said people are too cynical. Are people too cynical? Do you really think a breakthrough is possible? In this climate, at this time?

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QUEEN RANIA:

I feel that we don't have the luxury of asking whether or not the Palestinians and Israelis can achieve peace. I think we have to just ask the question of when and how. Because saying it's -- it's the -- if the peace process is possible or not, that kind of cynicism comes at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, you know? We cannot write off a process. Because by writing off a process, we're writing off people's lives. So, it has to happen.

Now, what's missing is the political will on all sides to forward. We need the leaders to have the fortitude to really make the right decisions. And I don't think anyone has -- any of us have the patience for more process. We want to get to the end game. We want to move beyond process. And really see decisive and concrete actions on the ground that get the Palestinians and Israelis to move forward on peace. This is a process that has been going on for a long time. And these incremental steps only feed the agendas of the -- those that are against peace. They only feed radical agendas.

SAWYER:

Prime Minister Netanyahu introduced a new phrase into the debate. In which he said in order for there to be a Palestinian state, the Palestinians would have to recognize Israel as a nation state of the Jewish people. Is that ever gonna happen?

QUEEN RANIA:

For there to be peace, there needs to be an end to all the occupation. That's a fact that cannot be ignored. The only way for Israel to achieve a sense of security is for it to be accepted and accepting in the region. And the end to occupation, giving the Palestinians their right to statehood and freedom to the people at the end of the day, that's what's going to get Israel -- the security.

Now, there have been unhelpful steps on the ground. For example, the issue of the settlements has been a major issue. And we were hoping that this week we would be kick-starting the peace negotiations, instead of just having a meeting. But those ended up being a stumbling block. And for Israel to seize the settlement building is not for Israel to make concessions or compromise. It's just to abide by the law. Because those settlements are illegal. And -- and they must stop.

And how can you sit at a negotiating table, with your partner, when your partner is creating facts on the ground that are non-negotiable. And that's what happens with these -- with these settlements. And let me just say that the peace is not just something that Palestinians want. It's not just -- peace between Israelis and Palestinians and Israelis and Arabs. The United States wants this peace to move forward. Europe, the rest of the world. We're talking about, you know, Israel being accepted by 57 members of the United Nations, who are not -- who don't recognize Israel at the moment.

So, we -- everything hinges on this. And it's in the world's strategic interest for there their be peace between Israelis and the Palestinians. There have been too much suffering, too much pain, too much mistrust. You know, peace is what undermines extremism, you know? We all have a vested interest in peace and security in our region.

Queen Rania on Education

SAWYER:

Another achievement, which many people increasingly think is the key to this planet, is education. And you've established something [1 Goal: Education for All]. This is every -- every person, every child will begin to have an education by the year 2015. Can that be done that soon?

QUEEN RANIA:

That is one of the millennium development goals that we made in the year 2000. Now, at current rates, we're not going to -- we're still going to have about 29 million children out of -- school by 2015. So, the idea behind 1 Goal is to really try to get people to demonstrate to the leaders that they want children to -- to get -- go into schools. Because I really feel that political will is born out of popular will.

So, we need the heat of popular will, the momentum from the people, the critical mass to demand from our leaders to get the children to school. At the moment, there's 75 million children who are out of school. To get them into school would cost about $11 billion a year. Now, that sounds like a lot of money. But let me put it into perspective. Americans spend that amount of money on their pets in three months. Europeans spend that amount of money on ice cream every year. That kind of money is what the Iraq and Afghan war costs in just one month.

So, when you really think about it in a glob -- in global perspective, $11 billion is loose change. And what you get for your money is incredible. You know? Children who have an education grow up to lead healthier lives -- earn higher income, take better care of their families, contribute to their economies. So, there's one silver bullet that really cuts through a lot of the problems that our world faces from extremism to environmental issues, to hunger, to poverty, it's education.

SAWYER:

This is through primary school? Or is this additional? High school?

QUEEN RANIA:

This is -- $11 billion is what we need to get all children into primary school. So, you know, as I said, the political leaders have made the pledges, but they haven't fulfilled those pledges. Now, the economic crisis doesn't necessarily help. But it's not the cause. I think even beforehand, we were not fulfilling our commitments. So, we just really need to prioritize this and make sure that it's on every leader's -- agenda.

SAWYER:

A young women's leadership school, which has 100 percent college attendance rate on graduation.

QUEEN RANIA:

The young women in East Harlem. And you know it's now what I say, it's what I get from them. Such inspiration, you know? To see these young girls who have been given a chance in life. And how that's transformed their characters. How that's given them the ability to articulate their dreams. To give them the confidence to move forward. You know?

I was completely inspired by them. And I feel that, you know, if we can provide this kind of chance to people everywhere, then imagine the kind of changes we'll see in our world. You know, often times, we think of girls as soft and vulnerable. And we don't really think of them as possibly being the solutions to some of the world's toughest problems, but they really are. You know? You educate a girl. She gains self confidence and self-respect. She gets married later in life. She has fewer kids. She earns a higher income and spends that income on her -- her family's education and health.

You know, she contributes to her society. She's more protected from HIV, from abuse, from exploitation. So, the benefits are numerous. And, you know, I feel that this is an investment that -- that is really worth making. And should be top priority for most leaders. I feel that the education of girls really transforms societies.

SAWYER:

Yes, you wrote once -- that "Education has been my shield, my sword, and my olive branch." Did you write that on Twitter?

QUEEN RANIA:

Yeah. (LAUGH) Just something I -- it's just a thought that came to my mind.

Queen Rania on Royal Tweeting

SAWYER:

I believe you are the first member of a royal family to be on Twitter.

QUEEN RANIA:

I think I -- you know, I think I might be. And I find that kind of strange, because, you know, Twitter is -- is a venue that would suit somebody in -- in my position.

SAWYER:

Because?

QUEEN RANIA:

Well, because I think with us -- it's difficult to make friends sometimes. And -- and people are reluctant to speak their mind, because sometimes they feel they have to be formal. Or sometimes they feel like they don't want to be the bearers of bad news. And Twitter is -- and other social media, not just Twitter, is a great venue where you can really connect with people. Very raw and natural and unedited. And that's really useful. Because sometimes you just want to get to the truth.

And it really gives you insights into people's minds. How they're thinking, what they're feeling, what the trends out there are. So, in -- in a sense, it's a way for me to give people a window into my life. And for me to also -- it's a great way for me to look into their lives and learn a lot. So, that's been fantastic. And, you know -- as I've said, with -- with education, I just think of, you know, "Where would I be without my education? And would I be able to do what I'm doing today?"

And sometimes I also look at -- at myself and -- and I'm sure all your viewers, as well, we agonize over our kids' education. We sit there and think is -- did we send them to the right school? Did we make the right decisions for them? Because we understand how important their education is for their future. How critical it is in the final outcome of their lives. And we just need to realize that every parent feels that way towards their children. Every parent wants to give their children the chance at a better life. And often times, it's -- education's a lifeline. It provides children with the opportunity to put their -- their foot on the first rung of a ladder that can really see them climbing out of poverty. And breaking the chains and cycles of -- of disadvantage, that have gone through generations. So.

SAWYER:

Speaking of your children, Prince Hussein, now 15. Last time we spoke, you said that he really didn't know that he might someday be King himself. He does now. Because it was announced that he is the heir to the throne. Was that a conversation you had with him? And in that moment, where the transition took place between not knowing for sure and then the certainty of his life. Was there something you wanted to make sure?

QUEEN RANIA:

You know, the thing is -- that isn't even a conversation I had with my husband. Because, you know, that is one thing that I knew that it's a decision that he had to make on his own, as the head of the country. He is in a unique position to see things -- comprehensively. And he is the only one who knows who should be crowned prince. And how and when. And how this whole thing works. So, I didn't want to be even party to this decision.

Now, I heard shortly beforehand that he was going to make that announcement. And, you know, I was divided, as a mother. You know, I want my son to have an opportunity to have a normal upbringing, to have relations with friends, and just do the things that teenagers do. But at the same time, I also understood that being in this position also prepares him. It introduces him to the protocols, the problems, the people in our country. Without necessarily subjecting him to the pressures that come with all those things.

So, I was kind of divided as a mother. Now, in the aftermath of that, I did have a talk with him. I did explain to him that, you know, this is a big decision, but that his life should continue as -- as normal. That he has to focus first and foremost on his grades. Doing well in school. That he has to focus, first and foremost, also on being a decent guy. That he's not gonna get any shortcuts. That, you know -- people will judge him according to his own behavior. According to his own values that he espouses.

So, he needs to work on remaining -- to be a nice guy. 'Cause that's the most important thing. And I said, you know, we take it from there. We take it a step at a time. We are there to support him. It's -- it might seem like a heavy burden for a young -- man of his age to carry. But, you know, as much as possible, we'll try to shield him from all the -- difficulties. As I said, you know, first and foremost, he needs to fo -- focus on his grades. And that's what matters to me.

SAWYER:

I love the picture you posted of the two of you. And -- I'll mangle what you said. But it was basically savor these moments before your kids decide it's not cool to be seen with you.

QUEEN RANIA:

It's true. (LAUGH) It's true, you know. Because, you know, there comes a time when your kids just don't -- I mean -- I mean, even now, when his friends are over, I have to sort of just stick my head in and just say hi and disappear very quickly. 'Cause I know -- he just -- you know, at this age, they don't really want to be seen with their parents, do they? (LAUGH)

SAWYER:

No. Definitely not. I have a friend who said -- his son said to him, "Everything about you embarrasses me." (LAUGH) Which pretty much summarizes --

QUEEN RANIA:

It does, except -- but, you know, I guess we have to remember that we were kind of like that with our own parents. So, that allows you to empathize a little bit.

SAWYER:

We should tell everyone, by the way, that you have a site to address stereotypes. And one of them you tackled was the head covering. People write you questions. People write you things they think and you tackle them? You address them?

QUEEN RANIA:

Yeah, the idea was to -- in this -- in this web site, was just to get people to air out all of these stereotypes that they have in their minds about Arabs and Muslims. And for us to try to address some of them. You know? I think there's been in the -- in the past, particularly in the past decade, real rifts between the East and West. And misunderstanding. And, you know, for us to bridge this, it has to be through dialogue. And none of us wants to see this dialogue -- prejudiced by stereotypes, you know? And the stereotypes are pervasive. And the only way we can tackle them is to really air them out and deal with them -- you know, confront them.

SAWYER:

Education.

QUEEN RANIA:

It's about education. It's about also human interaction, you know? The more we interact with one another, the more we realize that we want the same things in life. You know, we care, as I was saying, about our kids' education. We care about our families. We want a good future. We want to have -- the -- rights to -- dignified life. Everybody wants that. You know?

And the more you interact with people. The more you realize you have much more in common than -- than things that separate you. And what happens is with -- with sites like YouTube and Twitter and all of those other media, they give you a new tool to connect with other people. And I think this debate needs to be creative. This debate shouldn't just remain at the level of politicians and heads of states and policymakers. It should be between normal people, you know, who can really share their stories of their everyday lives. And -- and these sites allow you to be the author of your own content, and to really reach out to people who are thousands of miles away. And realize that you can forge friendships. And that you have so much in common.