President Aoun's address marking the Centenary of Greater Lebanon

Sun 30 Aug 2020 at 21:01 Politics

NNA  President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, addressed the Lebanese this evening in a televised speech on the occasion of the Centenary of Greater Lebanon.

In his address, the President said:

"My fellow compatriots,
A year ago, we announced the kickoff of the Greater Lebanon Centenary commemoration, and it was supposed to be marked by cultural and artistic activities that speak of Lebanon; Lebanon, the country of civilization, culture, values, the country of Diaspora covering the four corners of the globe, the country of diversity and conviviality, and also the country of struggle and suffering, the country of pain and hope.

Unfortunately, this year has been packed with unprecedented crises and with disasters, leaving no room for any glimpse of joy. Yet, there remains hope, hope for real change that enables our nation to rise again.

A hundred years have gone by since the creation of the Lebanese State, since the declaration of the Greater Lebanon State.

It is true that the approaches of the Lebanese to this historic event are different and sometimes contradictory. Nevertheless, History and Truth testify that the proclamation of the Greater Lebanon State has constituted the nucleus for the creation of our nation in its current borders, after having restituted what had been ripped off it, and having secured for it a precious international recognition at that time.

Out of historical fidelity as well, with the beginning of the Greater Lebanon, the pillars of the State have started to get in place, with the help of the French authorities; indeed, the foundations of all the administrative, financial, judicial and security institutions and regulations were laid down during that era, and so was the Lebanese Constitution.

My fellow Lebanese,
Today, we stand at the threshold of the second Centenary of our Lebanese State, and we must undertake a franc and honest review, especially that the first centenary, although it has known some eras of prosperity, economic, cultural and institutional renaissance, was overall loaded with plights, crises and wars, and our people only witnessed real stability and peace of mind for short periods that looked like an armistice between a crisis and the next...So where is the problem? Is it in us or in our surroundings or in our fate?

The specificity of the Lebanese society lies in its pluralism and diversity; and this is a real asset if it is well managed. Our ancestors have come up with a coexistence formula based on the respect of the others, and the respect of their right to political existence. The formula succeeded until it was smothered by the political fluctuations in the region, which have ignited our wars and the wars of others on our land, till the conclusion of the Taef Accord, which has become, partly, the new Constitution and which has strengths and weaknesses that pop up before us at every milestone.

Today, Lebanon is facing an unprecedented crisis whereas the decades-old accumulations in politics, economy, finance and livelihood have exploded. So has the time come to discuss a new formula or a new agreement?

Lebanon's youth are calling for change. They are everywhere, claiming out loud the change of the system; are we listening to them? These youth are the Lebanon of tomorrow. For them and for their future, I say: yes, the time has come!

Pluralism is a source of humanitarian, cultural and value richness. It has made Lebanon a message and a land for encounters and dialogue; shall we allow pluralism to become an engine for segregation and division? The confessional system which is based on the rights of confessions and on quotas between them was valid for a while, but today it has become an obstacle before any progress or recovery in the country, a hindrance for any reform and fight against corruption, and a generator of strife, incitement and division for all those who wanted to undermine the country.

Yes, there is a need to develop, modify, change the system...call it the way you like; but most certainly, Lebanon needs a new conception in running its affairs, based on citizenry and on the secularism of the State.

The shift of Lebanon from the prevailing confessional system to the modern secular State, the State of the citizen and citizenry, shall rescue it from the heinous legacies and repercussions of confessionalism, and save it from the protectorates, the red lines and the spoil-sharing that curtail any constructive will and curbs any move towards reform.

Lebanon and the Lebanese deserve, after a long suffering, a State where merit is the Criterion, and law is the Guarantor of the rights of all equally, and where the fundamental belonging is to the nation and not to the leaders of the confessions.
This State is a popular demand. It is claimed by the voices of the youth on the streets, so shall the political wills converge around it and shall the mechanism to reach it be discussed seriously?

My fellow Lebanese,
In order for the 1st of September 2020 to be a completion of the 1st of September 1920, and because I believe that only the secular State is capable of protecting and preserving pluralism and turning it into a real unity, I call for the proclamation of Lebanon as a secular State.
And I undertake to call for a dialogue that encompasses the spiritual authorities and the political leaderships in order to reach a formula that is accepted by everyone and that would be embodied in the appropriate constitutional amendments.

Dear compatriots,
This is our land, this is our nation; and no matter how tough the difficulties get, we shall stay here and we shall stay together; and Lebanon shall remain, centenary after centenary, the country of all the Lebanese, the country of the immortal Cedar.

Long live Lebanon!" - {Presidency Press Office}


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