Lebanon can serve as a centre to co-existence to the world, says Aoun
“You are a source of pride to your country,” Lebanese President Michel Aoun
We have done a lot, but much more has to be done,” FM Gebran Bassil
JUNE 8, 2019
(Translation appears in Arabic section)
Lebanon- M E Times Int'l: President of the Lebanese Republic, Michel Aoun, held talks in Baabda with guests from the sixth annual Diaspora Energy Conference. Among those he met were the premier of the Canadian province Nova Scotia, Stephen McNeil. Lebanese-born Swedish MP Roger Haddad and a Brazilian delegation chaired by Senate member Nelson Trad Filho. The president emphasized the importance of strengthening relations between Lebanon and Canada, including Nova Scotia. McNeil praised the role played by the Lebanese Diaspora in his province, underlining their considerable impact, economically and culturally. Senator Trad pledged to work for the signing of an agreement between Lebanon and Mercosur, which includes Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Venezuela. "We are aiming to strengthen relations with Brazil and Mercosur, and the Lebanese Foreign Minister signed an agreement with the South American countries in this context," President Aoun said. He thanked Brazil for its contribution to UNIFIL, and emphasised the importance of a direct flight route between Beirut and Madrid for travel to South America.
Excerpt of President Aoun's Speech
It has become a tradition for you to meet on the territory of Lebanon every year; a beautiful tradition indeed because it gathers you from the four corners of the globe and brings you to your mother-country. You get together, get to know each other and act together, so the distance shrinks.
You are a source of pride to your country, not only with your creativity, careers and achievements at a world scale, but also because you are a role model for coexistence between nations;
Wherever you went, you integrated and managed to adapt to different habits, peoples and languages. You lived with all the civilizations, cultures and religions, whereas you did not form a strange body, rejecting and rejected, in the societies that have hosted you; on the contrary, you have learned and taught, and you have developed the human sense among various civilizations.
Your characteristic is that you are the people of a nation which carries in its genes the essence of civilizations that consecutively passed through its land, enriching its culture and opening it up;
Your characteristic is that you are the citizens of a country which lived a dire trial when some of its citizens decided to embrace fanaticism and the rejection of the other, and paid the highest price but learned the lesson well;
Your characteristic is that you are the citizens of a plural society which learned how to live with its difference and how to respect the right of the other to existence, belonging and expression.
Our world today is packed with ethnic, racial and religious fanaticism; a world where humans have fallen in the gap of being different from their fellow humans and have made their affiliations the enemy of their humanity, a world where chaos prevailed and wars and harsh scenes spread.
“I launched an initiative at the United Nations proposing Lebanon to become a permanent centre for dialogue…”President Aoun
This is where comes the role of Lebanon in the world, Lebanon which is constrained by geography, Lebanon whose area on the world map is not sufficient to write its name, but whose Diaspora covers the globe, equalling many times the number of its residents.
The role of this Lebanon lies in its vocation, in the model it can offer, especially after the trials that it has gone through and which taught it many a lesson; it taught it how to live with its pluralism. It taught it that difference is a right and not a cause for dispute, and that hatred, fanaticism and wars can only lead to destruction and collapse.
I launched an initiative at the United Nations proposing Lebanon to become a permanent centre for dialogue among the various civilisations, religions, and ethnicities, besides the establishment of the "Human Academy for Encounter and Dialogue".
In fact, encounter, dialogue, bringing people - youth in particular - closer to each other and introducing them to other civilizations, make easier their correct integration in the course of the evolution of human civilization, and immunize them against any attempts to lure them. It is the ideal means to eradicate terrorism which still represents a risk to the world and to future generations.
This is not only Lebanon's role but yours too. You have to be disciples of encounter and dialogue, to remain a role model as you are today, and to support the candidacy of Lebanon where you are active, especially that the initiative has had a large favourable welcome from many States and international bodies which expressed their willingness to support and accompany it.
Today, you are spread over all the world but you are also spread over all the families of Lebanon; few are the Lebanese households which did not experience the bitterness of emigration, and few are the Lebanese households which do not receive assistance from emigration; you have always stood by your families, your society and your nation, especially during hardships.
In turn, your mother-country must also stand by you, build bridges of communication and exchange between you and the resident citizens, and make you feel the strength of the roots and the magnificence of belonging to a human identity, a land, a civilization and a heritage.
This is why we constantly insisted on consecrating your belonging to Lebanon by enacting the 'nationality recovery law' which entered into effect more than a year ago, restoring the right to those who lost it. Tens of implementation decrees were issued for this law, benefiting some of you who have hence held again the identity of their land.
In this context, it is worth reminding that, for the first time in the history of democratic and parliamentary life in Lebanon, the Lebanese emigrants participated in the entire world and from the country where they live, in the legislative elections that were held last year.
There is no doubt that this step will open up a wide horizon for an active participation of the Lebanese Diaspora overseas, in determining the fate and political choices of their country, by renewing democratic life therein.
Lebanon is struggling today to rise from chronic accumulated crises, especially in the economic sphere, but it is on the path of recovery, and any effort on your part will undoubtedly help it to move forward on this path.
We have done a lot, but much more has to be done,”
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil, in his welcome to the conference, said delegates had “partaking in the 107th pilgrimage to your ancestral homeland to participate in the Sixth International Diaspora Energy Conference in Beirut, and the 15th in the world".
"We will send the biggest message to the inside and outside, affirming that Lebanon is the laboratory of humanity in which we can live together, Christians and Muslims, in equity before the law and the constitution," Bassil said in his delivered word at the conference venue in BIEL.
The minister explained that the means of obtaining the Lebanese citizenship have become four. "We are aiming to make them five with the endorsement of a law that respects a woman's right to grant her children citizenship when married to a foreigner," he added.
"I am aware that Lebanon's internal balance is not complete unless it is balanced with that of its diaspora, and this milestone has not been achieved yet. We have done a lot, but much more has to be done with our joint efforts," Bassil added.