NNA - The President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, stressed that he has not changed, but is still the same. "Rather, the conflicting forces external and internal, and the external connections of some, were the barrier placed in front of me, and they are not a few." He believed that the consensual system and the imposing of unanimous condition "were paralyzing the state and blocking decisions, regardless of their importance.
On the other hand, he stressed that "whoever wants to bring Michel Aoun dawn is everyone who sticks to us the mistakes he makes." He added, "I am still myself, despite all the economic collapse I endured, and the bankruptcy that took place 30 years ago to this day and gathered together until it exploded in my era. In addition to the outcomes of the war in Syria, the repercussions of Coronavirus, and the recent disaster in the port.
He believed that Lebanon was resistant to change, "but the events that have happened now will break this reality, and sometimes reform will take place only after a disaster. Everyone, whether a ruler or a fraudulent citizen, must realize that this situation must change and the diseases that we used to live must be cured "
President Aoun revealed that gas is present in the fourth basin, and the political conditions that stopped its extraction will be exposed after a while, given the current geopolitical situation, the struggle for regional and international influence, and the attempt of pressure. The Middle East lives in power equations, not the right equations.
Regarding the investigation findings in the Beirut port explosion, he stressed that these investigations are classified, but they should start not from the period when the explosive happened, but rather to clarify "where the ship arrived from, where the nitrates were loaded, and why they arrived here even though they were heading to another place, and who is responsible for all of this ? "
President Aoun considered that whoever escapes responsibility is not worthy of judgment. He said that he was not afraid of confronting the Lebanese against the background of the port explosion, stressing that "my hands and my conscience are clean," noting that he was not aware of the explosives factors, and when the news reached him it was too late.
The President of the Republic reaffirmed that the late justice is not fair, pointing to the contracts that hinder the work of the judiciary and that the sectarian system has established limits in Lebanon for behavior, especially in the issue of fighting corruption.
And while President Aoun distinguished between the revolution of 89 and the October 17, he considered that "the October 17 movement would have been excellent if it was completed with a certain rationality," explaining that if the people did not bring reform, it would never happen.
Regarding the parliamentary consultations and the components of the new government, President Aoun said: "We have a complete program of the necessary reforms in order to regain our position and the world's confidence in us. If we do these reforms, we can move to a second stage and bring funds that achieve the economic program." He indicated that he sought to enrich the revolutionaries with ministers. "However, no one has come forward to announce himself or to get to know me closely."
And while President Aoun indicated that the Mar Mikhael agreement ( with Hezbollah) never bounded him, he considered that it was a kind of reconciliation, and "we have called everyone to join it."
He said "The agreement is completed when the two parties abide by the terms of the understanding. I do not want to engage in discussion of this matter. "
President Aoun considered: "The relationship with Bkerke ad normal, and the political positions of Bkerke are advanced." Regarding the conditions of the FPM, he said: "I am not in the leadership of the Aouni Movement at the moment, and today, as a father for all, I have a responsibility towards all the Lebanese from 18 sects. "
Regarding the symbolism of the French President's visit to Mrs. Fairouz at her home in Antelias at the start of his visit to Lebanon, President Aoun said: "The French know Mrs. Fairouz, and she sang for them on more than one occasion, and the French public loved her. This is an appreciative gesture from the President of France to Mrs. Fairouz, I find it natural. "
And how he likes to be remembered by history, President Aoun replied: "Just as I am," considering that "when events pass, people return to their mental clarity, so history will describe me correctly and everything will be clear." He expressed his constant welcome to meet young people in Baabda Palace in a direct dialogue to dispel their concerns, hoping that the beginning of the second 100-year of Greater Lebanon is marked by the awareness of a people looking to history and examining their conscience to find out the causes of the problems and clashes that occurred, and to reconsider their wrong positions and correct them to bring about change.
The positions of the President of the Republic came during an interview with journalist Ricardo Karam on the occasion of the first 100-year anniversary of the declaration of the state of Greater Lebanon.
The interview started with a question about whether there is near light in this dark tunnel. President Aoun asserted that "if there was no hope, we would reach despair, which does not befall us, especially since we are lying under the pressure and hoping for the resurrection We always look forward, there are difficulties in life that a person has to overcome , because retreating in the face of every shock means losing everything, and I believe that we will succeed if we directs strength towards the good. "
He was asked what is expected of the change that carries two faces, positive and negative. He he explained that what happened has happened, and we cannot expect the worst, as disasters accumulated greatly from the Syrian war, with very bad results that Lebanon has to bare in terms of the economic crisis and the massive Syrian population displacement, in addition to the Coronavirus pandemic , and the Beirut port explosion, which led to a great tragedy with the number of victims and the demolition of half of the capital, We look with great pain and sadness what happened, but we must also look forward to rebuild what was destroyed and help the living."
About what he said in his speech on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Greater Lebanon, and whether Lebanon is still democratic and republican. President Aoun replied, "Democracy is based on the equation of the majority and the minority, and we are based on a consensual system that requires consensus, that is, everyone must agree, which is in most cases impossible. It paralyzes the state and blocks decisions no matter how important they are. He pointed out that there are currently several republics, and we must create a single republic.
Regarding the new syztem that he talked about, and whether the Lebanese will determine it, President Aoun stressed on the obligation of the Lebanese people to create a new system, otherwise "we lose the basics of life and fall into the same problems again." He added, "The Lebanese have the right to question confidence in the leaderships, but raising the slogan everyone means all is not correct. Whoever calls for that is himself part of this, and had it not been for the presence of strong men in the big events, no one would have emerged from crises. The loss of confidence in everyone is a kind of despair that should be circumstantial. "
In response to a question about whether we are facing a new Taief accord , he replied: "I don't want to call it Taief because there is no similarity between the circumstances that led to it and the current situation. Taief accord took place to end the war and clash through consensual and not radical solutions, and it could not show the complete truth but rather maintain some ambiguity to secure compatibility, but today when there are single solutions stemming from the popular experience and the history of the nation, they come in the general context, the context of development.
Regarding the best thing that happened in Lebanon during the last hundred years, President Aoun considered that the best was liberation from the Ottoman occupation after the victory of the Allies, then the direct establishment of the current state institutions of justice, security and money with the help of the French state, and the establishment of Greater Lebanon, which expanded the borders of Lebanon and adopted Beirut as its capital. After the constitution was declared, Lebanon became a republic, followed by independence, which are all positive matters. Rather, life is a continuous development and a constant movement, and everything that does not develop dies, and this is also true for institutions. If they had not developed, they would have changed naturally and could not then be eroded or worn out.
No change of convictions
For what is the best thing that happened during his presidency and the period that had passed from his presidential term, President Aoun said that what he started working on immediately after assuming his duties was to ensure stability and security, because they are the basis of prosperity and the citizen's confidence in his present and future. Then the oil and gas law was approved, which was to be approved in a year. In 2013 it was delayed due to the used system and the opposition of some, and an agreement has now been reached with the companies, noting that the gas is in the fourth basin, and it will be known after a while, what were the political conditions that stopped its extraction, given the current geopolitical situation and the struggle for regional and international influence and the attempt of pressure, as the Middle East lives power equations, and not the right equations.
Regarding his reading of the popular scene that shifted from demanding his return in the past to his departure today, President Aoun believed that the elements that led to this situation, namely the obstacles that were set to halt the implementation of projects, must be resolved. The Lebanese were waiting for greater prosperity and the fight against corruption according to the hopes that were sought, but internal political conflicts and even the media helped to form the current prevailing mode. Today, we are in the midst of the storm and tragedy and we lack unified ideas to deal with problems, as the political position is taken according to personal interests, and even parliamentary consultations that will start on Monday to select a prime minister, which was delayed for these reasons. There are maneuvers that are taking place. Consequently, the economic situation, media pressure and personal conflicts are at the heart of the system that we want to change, all of these elements have accumulated to reach here. "As for our intentions are the same, and the fight against corruption exists. I encouraged and worked in order to agree with an American company for forensic audit in order to fight corruption and determine who is responsible, and this means that I have not changed, but I am still as I am, but the conflicting forces externally and internally and the external connections of some It was the checkpoint in front of me, and it is not a little. "
He was asked about his evaluation of his popularity today, and whether it was the same, especially since he entered power knowing that the president's powers are limited, so he said: "There is concern. There may be a shock, but there is no change in convictions, and there may be doubt, but there is a return to this. Convictions. " Regarding the presidential powers, he replied: "I had a feeling, and I had a will, and I used my will and continued my feeling that after the experience since 1990 until the stage we went through, it is possible for the mentality of governance to have changed, which did not happen. And Lebanon is the first country. The world is witnessing the survival of the rulers who were during the occupation, after the departure of the occupier, and this is thanks to the external forces that supported them.
In response to a question about whether he considers Minister Gebran Bassil to be one of the reasons for the negative impact on this era, as some say, he replied: Gebran Bassil can defend himself when attacked. The politician is always subject to criticism or support. This is a changing political situation.
Parties fighting the presidency
The president was asked whether there are really parties working to fight and bring down the presiden , and who they are?
He said: "These parties tell about themselves. Everyone who wants to overthrow Michel Aoun is the who wants to sticks the mistakes he makes. If someone speaks against you and creates a lie around you, they wants to hurt you and hit your confidence. The authority is abrogated when it makes mistakes, and not when mistakes are made in the parliament and in the cabinet. The president of the republic gives directives, follows events and monitors them. I can provide many examples of the government's failure to abide by the directives or not. What could I do? There must be consensus on the decisions in the government. In general, when a minister feels he is wrong, he starts an uprising when his mistake is pointed out and tells him that he is not aware of the current situation.
Question: You are not a president of the republic like the many other presidents who lived in Baabda Palace and were marginalized. How do you accept this reality?
Answer: "I think that what I have endured as a result of this reality and the accumulation of responsibilities indicate that I am still myself. I endured the economic collapse, the bankruptcy that took place 30 years ago to this day and gathered until it exploded in my era, the results of the war in Syria, the repercussions of the Coronavirus, and the recent disaster." In the port, yet I am still Michel Aoun.I do not think that many people could have endured all of that and maintain security in the country. When conditions allowed us a good period of security after we won the battle of the Eastern mountains and expelled terrorists from Lebanon, tourism flourished, and we heard of all visitors saying that security in Lebanon is better than it is in Europe and America. No one could have predicted that the port would exploded after it had contained dangerous materials since 2014, and this happened upon our review of a report on the matter, and we were given directives for immediate treatment. This coincidence with the explosion and the spread of the news on the matter after 6 years of the material being in the port."
In response to a question about whether he was able to change after 46 months of his term, he replied: "I feel that people have become anxious, and the anxiety can be fixed, and there are indeed people who have lost their confidence. But changing the conditions in which we are living and the beginning of a specific reform can be repeated. Building trust, working now to bring people back to their homeland, while anger that prevailed is natural. I got angry and felt oppressed, especially when I saw the tragedies that happened and the houses that were destroyed. Who does not get angry at such times? No one. A person sometimes disbelieves and does not get angry. There are people who lost their loved ones and their homes, a real disaster that happened, greater than natural disasters and earthquakes. "
Events broke reality
He was asked whether Lebanon was resistant to reform and change. He answered: "Yes it was resistant to change, but the events that have happened now will break this reality, and sometimes reform does not happen until after a disaster. Now everyone, whether a ruler or a fraudulent citizen, must be aware that this situation must change and the diseases that we had must be cured. This can only happen by returning to our conscience and seeing the facts that happened as they are, and what is the reason for their occurrence, then a person can emerge from his state of disease to a new state.
In response to a question about how it is possible to persuade young people to stay in Lebanon.
He replied: "When the paths of life are blocked in face of a person with the current situation, he will look for another place to go. This is normal after the tragedies that have occurred, but I think that the greater part will return to the homeland when it is beginning to progress and conditions are beginning to improve. Whoever lives in one community finds it very difficult to live in another society. I tried it myself. I lived in America and France and visited many countries, when your environment change you find that your habits have weakened and you have to live according to new habits, and you have to slough off your old skin. "
Question: But times have changed today with globalization. He replied: "Globalization has burned the whole world, because it is full of evil. Wherever a person travels, he will not harmonize with other societies as in his country, no one forgets the Mother Earth." About how he describes what happened in the port of Beirut, is it a crime, a massacre, or an earthquake?
Answer: If it is a crime, then it must be deliberate, and the massacre is the same. This description does not express reality unless the investigation determines that what happened was an intentional act, and the investigation is now underway.
Asked: But the Prime Minister promised the Lebanese the results of the investigation within five days. He replied: I think he hastened a little by setting this deadline, because cases like these are formed over many years, and the reasons for their occurrence are still unknown and cannot be completed quickly.
Judicial and confidentiality of the investigation
Regarding the results of the investigation, he said: "The event was not born in an instant, rather it was formed during many years since the arrival of these materials at the port. During the six years that the materials remained in warehouse 12, we have to know what happened. There is correspondence. Between the port and the judges and between the institutions, they are indicative of how this disaster was built.
In response to a question about why the ship of ammonium nitrate docked in Lebanon, and why everyone was silent about it. He said: This matter must begin with the investigation, which must know where the ship came from and why it arrived, where the nitrates were loaded, and why it arrived here even though it was heading to another place, and who is responsible for it. All these matters must be clarified before diving into the investigation about what happened after the materials were found in the port.
He was asked: where did the investigation reach so far? He replied: I do not know because the investigation is confidential.
In response to a question about saying "we were not allowed" which annoyed some Lebanese He replied: "Perhaps it is a mistake in expression, but it is the result of the existing system when you do not get the majority in the cabinet. I did not appreciate that it would be understood in the sense that it was. I will give an example of electricity. A plan was drawn up in 2010 and approved by the Council of Ministers, and it was approved by everyone. And when we wanted to implement it, the government did not transfer the necessary funds for that. Isn't the mistake in the government that did not transfer funds to establish the facilities needed to produce electricity? When you are assigned a task and you are not given the means to implement it, are you at fault?
He was asked: But the Ministry of Energy was the share of the ministers of the Free Patriotic Movement for a decade. Was it not honorable for these ministers to submit their resignation from the government after they felt it was impossible to achieve what they wanted in the electricity file? He replied: Whoever escapes from responsibility is not worthy of judgment, even if there are difficulties. We have stayed at our insistence. At the time, I was president of the FPM and I talked about this issue because it happened to me. I confirm that no penny was transferred to build the energy
Claims to turn the table over
Regarding the tragedy of the port and his reading of the French President's tour in the region and his speech to the distressed citizens, President Aoun replied: "There was a state of anger and the citizens are right to be angry. President Emmanuel Macron wanted to go alone, it is an unfamiliar issue, but he wanted that, otherwise I would have accompanied him. He may have wanted to see the normal state of affairs on the street, and it was indeed so. "
And if he was afraid of confronting the Lebanese, the President of the Republic replied: "No, I am not afraid. Why am I afraid? My hands and my conscience are clean." As for the citizens to hold him responsible for what happened, he said: "If you want to hold me accountable, that means that you must also hold those responsible for all who are under the President of the Republic. The President is watching over the implementation and he cannot ensure the implementation of something he does not know. I was not aware of the issue of explosives. When I got the news, it was too late. "
And whether he still remembers the scenes and victims of the explosion, he said: "Certainly, a large number of victims have fallen, but as a responsible president, the first thing I did was to contact the institutions concerned with rescue and I called the Red Cross, the civil defense, the security forces and the army. "To know the scale of the disaster and closely follow the rescue operations. These are the duties of the president. If I went to the street, what would I have seen about a building, two or more, and what about other damages? I had to watch the scene as a whole to see what I should do."
Regarding the scene that had the greatest impact on him, he said: "The images of the victims, as well as the smoke that rose and all the demolished homes, were painful."
Regarding the judiciary and not moving as he wanted, and for those who protect the corruption. He replied: "I do not want to explain much to those who do their work, especially when the matter is dishonorable if it is not correct. According to my request, the judiciary has filed 22 cases related to corruption distributed to the courts. A decision is made only by one. The judiciary is a chain in which there are many contracts, and when there is, for example, a lost link, matters stop at a certain limit. "
Regarding the demands of the President of the Republic to turn the tables and name all the corrupt, he replied: "Let's assume we turned the table. We are torturing a lot in implementing the law, for example: The Minister of Finance has not yet signed a criminal financial audit contract with the American company, six months ago until today. We are not done with this topic yet. "
Sectarianism and the limits of behavior
He explained that the problem is not in the routine of the judiciary only, but in the routine of everything, pointing to the way the judiciary works and how the cases move from one reference to another between decision, appeal and discrimination. Reaffirming that late justice is not fair.
Regarding the difference between the revolution of the 1989 and today's revolution against the authority and President Aoun. He said: "The difference is big between the two. At that time, the war was against an enemy or an apparent opponent. You know what you want from him, especially in terms of retrieving the homeland. Today's revolution, the war is against the people of the nation. If the people do not want to be liberated in elections, for example, what do you understand from someone who says he is a father to grandfather with a certain candidate, this person is not aware that life has evolved, interests and society have changed, and here lies the difficulty. "
And about what he did to the real revolutionaries who called "all means all" after the revolution broke through lines and tried to divert it from its path, he said: "This was an opportunity for change, but it was in vain and I sent a message to them to receive them explaining the situation to them, and when no one came I knew that there was no such thing. The movement is responsible for it, it is an emotional grassroots movement.
The answer to the message was "You all mean all of you", and the biggest opportunity you met was in vain, so I told them to stay in the street because this would help us. "
Regarding the reason that prevents the arrest of at least one corrupt person. President Aoun replied: "You know why, sectarianism has set limits for behavior."
Regarding his saying, "They is no one involved in my family," while the October 17 revolutionaries asserted the opposite. He replied: I challenge the whole world with its intelligence services and all their means, to reveal that someone from my family is involved. I told you a while ago that Gebran Bassil is defending himself, but now I challenge to leave the presidency if someone catches them, and I say this to the entire Lebanese people, and in front of the Americans, French, English and Arabs.
Regarding the despair of the Lebanese, and some wishing for a ruler like the Saudi crown prince or the return of the French mandate to stand up to corruption, he replied: "I said that the people are desperate, as I said that we are lying under the dust in the hope of the resurrection and we will not despair while we are alive."
The formation of the government and the Mar Mikhael Agreement
And about how he would have acted if General Aoun was in military uniform: He answered "if you wanted to build a state that could not be built with violence, especially if you wanted a system that would develop. If the people were not developed in their ideas and he did not bring reform, then reform does not last. There are many countries and leaders, they imposed civil regulations, which were soon toppled after several years, because they were imposed and were not produced by the people. The change movements in France were the product of the people, who had not imposed anything on them. Hence, I used to say that the October 17 movement would have been excellent had it completed with a certain rationality. "
In response to a question about whether the French president was asked to track the assets of politicians in Europe to question them about the source of what they earned and help recover them. He replied: "President Macron said something in this sense not to me, but in his meetings in the Palace of Pine, or that he hinted to this"
Regarding the parliamentary consultations and the components of the new government, President Aoun said: "We have a complete program of necessary reforms in order to regain our position and the world's confidence in us. If we do these reforms, we can move to a second stage and bring in funds that achieve the economic program."
Asked whether the government will meet the pulse of the revolutionaries or will it be a government of necessity or emergency. He replied: "They must declare themselves, who their leaders are. I have tweeted about my quest to represent the revolutionaries with ministers, but no one has come forward to announce themselves or to get to know me closely."
In response to a question about to what degree the Mar Mikhael agreement tied him. The President of the Republic said: " It never never cuffed me. During the 2006 war, it was not possible in the agreement not to support Hezbollah if there was a problem with Israel, they are part of my people and I live with him. If they won or loose, these are citizens." indicating that the understanding was a kind of reconciliation, "and we invited everyone to join, but it came out that that some classified the agreement as a Shiite-Maronite alliance against the Sunnis, and at that time the agreement was only the result of two days. How is it possible to get out of these preconceived beliefs? And what would we have been harmed if everyone joined.
President Aoun considered, "This understanding was not intended for profit or loss, but rather for the creation of a natural situation in which I had a contribution to the victory of right over falsehood, and therefore the matter is not the subject of buying and selling," indicating that developments such as the 2006 war prevented its development. " We are working to build the state, but there are major conflicts. For example, the Palestinians have been with us for 73 years. In addition to a million and a half Syrians displaced today. How should we act? "
He was asked: If you broke the link with Hezbollah and signed the decree to settle the Palestinians, would you have won public opinion in the West as well as in the Gulf states? He replied, "This is how Israel wants. It has always placed the condition of resettlement in any agreement with America."
Regarding the reason for the continuation of the Mar Mikhael understanding while the Maarab understanding ( with Geagea) was lost. the President of the Republic clarified, "The issue is a matter of commitment and I do not want to enter into many details. The agreement is achieved when the two parties adhere to the terms of the understanding. I do not want to engage in discussion of this matter."
Relationship with Bkerke
Regarding the relationship with Bkerke and the Patriarchate's exposure to a violent attack today after the Patriarch's words about neutrality and Hezbollah's weapons and the people's loss of confidence in the entire ruling class. President Aoun said: "The relationship with Bkerke is normal, and its political positions are advanced but without violence," indicating that " Lebanon is not a confrontational state at all, so we can hardly defend ourselves. We are the smallest and poorest country in the whole ocean. And if we do not want to defend ourselves, there are methods other than the classic ones. "
Regarding the conditions of the Aounist movement, President Aoun replied: "I am not in its political leadership at the moment, and I have today, as the father of all, a responsibility towards all the Lebanese from 18 sects, and justice is not preferred except for right.
Regarding his vision of getting closer to the new millennium generation, which sees the Lebanese leaders becoming "old accuracy," President Aoun said: "I live with this generation. Unfortunately now, my presence here took me away from it a little bit, because I was used to talking with students more than I talked to adults." ".
Regarding his nostalgia for the military uniform and all that previous period, the President of the Republic pointed out, "This is a stage that has passed and I am proud of it, but man cannot go back, because when he looks back a lot it is over", revealing that "a person has no wishes for the past. It is always for the next moment. " He said, "I hope to gain people's trust again if it has been lost towards me, and I hope to get out of the difficult stage and reach thinking in a modern way."
President Aoun responded to a series of quick questions. He was asked about civil marriage, and he answered that he is with it, and expressed his acceptance of the election of the president by the people, and made clear that peace with Israel must be based on rights, expressing his insistence that the financial criminal investigation be pursued until the end.
President Aoun indicated that the names of the politicians that the investigation can show them as corrupt are numerous, reiterating that "the Lebanese people are great and described them with all the good qualities in my message, and today they are suffering from a setback, but I am confident that they will rise again," stressing that the Baabda palace is still the people's home.
President Aoun indicated that he is currently reading the latest book by Amin Maalouf, and he is listening to the works of Rahabneh, Fairouz and classical music.
Regarding the symbolism of the French President's visit to Mrs. Fairouz at her home in Antelias at the start of his visit to Lebanon, President Aoun said: "The French know Mrs. Fairouz, and she sang for them on more than one occasion, and the French public loved her. This gesture of appreciation from the President of France to her I find natural."
He was asked: How would you like history to remember you? He replied, "As I am," considering that "when events pass and people return to their mental clarity, history will describe me as correct and nothing will disappear," indicating that "if there is no change from now to two years, it is not acceptable." He added: We must stop at what the French minister said Le Drian on the possibility of Lebanon's demise, saying that "if the people really want their homeland, this is a warning."
President Aoun expressed his constant welcome to meet young people in Baabda Palace in a direct dialogue to dispel their concerns, "I am convinced of what they say and work to mature their goals so that they come with the least possible harm and not violence. We must express our violence with our positions, not with our hands."
I hope that the beginning of the second centenary of Greater Lebanon will be marked by "the awareness of a people looking to history and examining their conscience to find out the causes of the problems and clashes that occurred, and to reconsider their wrong positions and correct them to bring about change."
Message for the people of Beirut
President Aoun concluded the interview, addressing the Lebanese in general, and the people of Beirut in particular, by saying: "Beirut has been destroyed, and we can rebuild it again and better than it was, but the souls that we lost cannot be returned. The departure of the mother, son, the elderly and the child is not compensated, and it is a source of pain to me regardless of the age. My heart and mind are with you, and God willing, justice will be achieved and every guilty will receive his punishment." -----Presidency Press Office