Papal Ambassador Meets Aoun: International Community Stresses Need for Respectful Dialogue Among Political Leaders
Tue 14 Jan 2020
(See translation in Arabic section)
Lebanon - The following is the speech of dean of the diplomatic corps, papal ambassador, Monsignor Joseph Spiteri, during his meeting with President of the Republic, Micheal Aoun, at Baabda Palace:
“Your Excellency the President of the Republic.
Allow me, at the outset, to express our sincere gratitude for kindly receiving us, Ambassadors and Representatives of International Organizations, on the occasion of the traditional exchange of greetings at the beginning of the New Year. It is an honor for me to represent my esteemed Colleagues as we address to You and to all the Lebanese People our sincere best wishes of peace and wellbeing for 2020. May this Jubilee Year be a year of renewal for Lebanon!
Your Excellency, I have had the opportunity, just like so many of the Ambassadors here present, to visit several humanitarian and charitable institutions in your beautiful country. Most of them are run by faith-based organizations and welcome everyone without any discrimination. All of them bear witness to the profound solidarity that animates Lebanese society; a solidarity that stems from the heart. We are all impressed by the generosity and the resilience of the Lebanese. Lebanon can truly be proud of its sons and daughters who strive to guarantee necessary care and assistance to children, young people, adults and the elderly, particularly those with special needs.
Most Lebanese, however, are also deeply disturbed by a certain dichotomy in their society due to the scourge of corruption, which Your Excellency has constantly denounced. Such a dichotomy, unfortunately, hinders the State from functioning in an effective manner at the service of all its citizens. Corruption impedes the Government from providing quality education, medical care and social security, water and electricity… It also limits the protection and guarantees ensured by an effective rule of law.
We were positively surprised, therefore, by the sincere call for an ethical renewal of the State made by young people during these last three months of protests throughout the whole of Lebanon. The young, joined by the older generations and animated by a fundamental spirit of solidarity, have rallied around the Lebanese flag demanding respect for their inalienable human rights. They are also requesting political, social and economic reforms. They are against corruption. They demand and deserve a better future!
Corruption annihilates solidarity. It poisons our hearts, our thoughts and our actions. It blinds us so that we no longer perceive others as equal in dignity. It induces us to consider them as disposable objects we can use and throw away. It impedes sincere dialogue and the genuine sharing of our talents.
Dialogue and sharing, in fact, are fundamental aspects of solidarity. That is why solidarity can be considered as an antidote to corruption. Dialogue is impossible if we do not consider each other as equals. This fundamental intuition lies at the heart of Your Excellency’s initiative of an Academy for encounter and dialogue, approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 16 September 2019. Please accept our sincere congratulations, Mr. President, as well as our best wishes for a rapid implementation of such a beneficial project at the service of human fraternity in Lebanon and around the world.
No human fraternity is possible without dialogue. The international community, here represented by the Heads of Mission of the Diplomatic Corps and of International Organizations, has been insisting on the need of a sincere and respectful dialogue between political leaders themselves, as well as with all those demanding real change. Dialogue cannot exclude anyone: those in favor, those against, and those who do not wish to take sides. Every citizen has the right to be heard. Any kind of violence, psychological or physical, destroys the possibility of dialogue, as does constantly blaming the other party. Sincere dialogue demands openness, good will and the desire to reach agreement by sacrificing certain positions or stances in favor of the common good. We reiterate today our fervent desire that, through dialogue and the good will of all the parties involved, a viable Cabinet be rapidly formed to implement the urgent and necessary reforms and regain the confidence of all the citizens and of all the friends of Lebanon.
Your Excellency, the celebrations for the First Centenary of Greater Lebanon seem to be overshadowed by the Lebanese “Revolution”, by the financial and economic crisis, and by the problems linked to the formation of a new government. It is not the first time that Lebanon passes through very difficult times. Every calamity seems to signal the end of an era, but it is never the end of history. Lebanese women and men will continue to write new chapters as free citizens of a free country. We are convinced that the Lebanese have the right attitude to discover new opportunities that arise from the present crisis. They are not afraid of the possible wounds that sincere human encounters might cause, because they also believe that solidarity can heal every wound. I would like to pay tribute, on this note, to the role of Lebanese women in society, in administration and especially in the present thawra, as they are not only demanding radical renewal, but are also bearing witness to effective solidarity. May their example inspire all those in authority, particularly in banking and in politics, to be always accountable and to take the right ethical decisions to serve Lebanon and its citizens, above all in this time of need.
Our sincere wishes are that this Centenary may become a privileged occasion to rediscover the fundamental intuition that inspired the foundation of the Lebanese Nation not so much as a gathering of minorities but as a community of free citizens whose inalienable dignity, equality and rights are enshrined in the Constitution.
It is not possible to conclude our address without mentioning the present situation in the Middle East. We are all culturally linked, in some way or another, to this region of the world, which continues to suffer from endless wars and faces renewed tensions. We desire stability and integral human development for all the peoples of this region. Today, we want to encourage all Lebanese to remain steadfast in their commitment to freedom, fundamental rights, democracy and solidarity so that they will continue to inspire hope in the possibility of harmonious coexistence and progress not only in the Land of the Cedars but also in neighboring countries.
Please accept, Your Excellency, the most sincere best wishes for the New Year, from all the Heads of State of the Nations we have the honor to represent before You. They renew their friendship with Lebanon and their heartfelt commitment to support your wonderful Country.
May the Almighty, in His wisdom and mercy, shower His blessings on You and on your family, as well as on all the Lebanese throughout all 2020, the centenary Year of hope.
God bless Lebanon! May God bless all of us present here.
Thank you.”-- Presidency Press Office