In his address to the nation on Lebanon’s 75th Independence Day, President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, said: “Our nation’s independence is 75 years old.
During these seventy five years, Lebanon has gone through hard times, it has lived wars, occupations and trusteeships, and our independence was subject to setbacks that almost made us lose it, but it also knew glorious moments that we are proud of, through the great sacrifices made by our people and army to safeguard Lebanon’s sovereignty, freedom and independence.
It has been seventy-five years that Lebanon is celebrating independence on the 22nd of every November. Yet, independence is not a mere celebration, and it cannot be reduced to a date or narrowed down to a festivity, although we celebrate and rejoice.
Being an independent country means having a sovereign decision.
Being an independent country means having sovereignty on its territories.
Being an independent country means presumably being capable of saying “yes” and “no” in everything that concerns it or relates to it.
I therefore address my remarks to you, fellow Lebanese, by saying: you have paid a lot to achieve real independence, and to have a nation with a sovereign decision. It is the responsibility of all of us to preserve this independence, and the first safeguard thereof is by maintaining our national unity, and our will of coexistence within the frame of human and social values which are stronger than all laws, and which bind and unite us, knowing that every fault here paves the way for a fault there.
Always remember that the entry of the external factor makes us lose the freedom of decision, thus wasting the essence of independence and jeopardizing sovereignty as well.
Also keep in mind that the nation’s independence and sovereignty must remain outside the equation of loyalty and opposition and outside the scope of struggle over power, for disputes must not be about the nation but rather about politics, and they are accepted as long as their ceiling remains below that of the nation and its higher interest.
My call today to all officials, parties, movements and confessions, on this national occasion which inflames our hearts with pride and glory, is to reject our differences, set aside our personal interests and show a sense of responsibility towards those who entrusted us with their fate, their livelihood affairs, the dignity of their existence and the welfare of their families; towards the Lebanese people who are sick of promises and almost despaired by snitching interests, and tired of the indifference of decision-makers to their concerns, their unemployment, their rights and their broken dreams.
It is our duty to reassure them about their future, and to get along in the House of Representatives and in the Government, striving day and night to plan and work on rescuing our country economically, socially, environmentally and ethically… Yes, ethically; because poisonous words that are launched at each other like arrows in the media and social media, clearly indicate the rock bottom that ethics have hit, and the lack of authenticity and humanity which have always characterized our people. With such a decline, there is no resurrection for the nation.
Lebanon is undergoing today a government formation crisis. It is true that it is not one of a kind, as we have previously experienced it in the past years. It also happened and is happening in States with a long-standing democratic and civilizational heritage; but it makes us lose time irreversibly, and blocks our abilities to produce and follow up the interests and affairs of the country and the citizens, in particular to address the economic situation. (If you want the State to rise, remember that Lebanon does not have anymore the luxury of wasting time).
During the past period, priority was given to ensuring security stability and keeping Lebanon away from the fires of the surroundings. Today, after having achieved that, it is indispensible to embark on tackling the pressing economic situation as well as the citizens’ fears and livelihood concerns. It is no longer possible to make do with local instantaneous treatments, and to postpone the desired reform at all levels, especially that the national economic plan has become clear and awaits the adoption of its schemes and decisions in the Council of Ministers and House of representatives; for the real strength of nations is not measured by their military capabilities, but rather by their real economy, its sustainable development and its adaptation to evolution and modernization.
Independence cannot be complete and national sovereignty does not take its full dimension unless the national economy is emancipated and converted from a catch-up economy to a productive one, by activating the production movement in the various sectors and throughout the country.
The Lebanese economy suffers from structural and financial problems which have aggravated over the past 28 years and resulted in the outcome that we are facing today, whereas real growth remained weak and incapable of generating enough employment opportunities for the youth, workers and businesspeople alike.
The overall private and public consumption exceeds the GDP…. and as the saying goes “Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest, and drinks a wine that flows not from its own wine-press”.
Lebanon is a country small in area but large in capabilities. Investing properly in these capabilities and potentials requires a serious approach to national economy, a modern perspective of production in the various sectors, and a total commitment to this orientation by both the society and the State, thus enabling Lebanon to build a productive economy that responds to the aspirations of our people and encourages our youth to work in their country to achieve an added value which enhances the national wealth and ensures a permanent and solid prosperity, thus consolidating the foundations of independence, promoting sovereignty and giving freedom – the freedom of the citizen in addition to the freedom of the nation – its real meaning which is closely linked to human dignity, wellbeing and ease.
Despite all the current difficulties, and although some feel that horizons are closed and that the future is cloudy and gloomy, I say most confidently and responsibly: we will not let the country moan longer, we will not be lenient in countering corruption and the corrupt, and we will not draw back on promises of reform, sustainable development and finding work opportunities for our youth. I will personally work with all my power, and with all the prerogatives vested in me as President of the Republic, in collaboration with the Speaker of Parliament and the Prime Minister, to push forward the wheel of the economy, rationalize expenditure, cut waste short, and improve services and infrastructure, which are some of the citizens’ most basic rights.
I am determined to keep working personally and daily on following up corruption files – whether small or big – with the concerned parties in the judiciary, the control agencies and the security and administrative organs, in order for the citizens to feel that something is changing in their daily lives, and that fighting corruption and the corrupt is not a mere slogan, but rather a continuous action which – despite being hard – will become tangible.
We face another problem, imposed on us by the war of the neighborhood, and putting strain on our economy, society and security, notably the situation of the Syrian displaced who are living in misery camps, in tents that neither protect them from heat nor from cold. One of their most fundamental rights is to return to their home and land, especially after the recession of the war and danger in most of the Syrian regions. Yet, some are hindering this return for hidden motives, whether by evoking the voluntary return while using all the means of encouragement and intimidation to make the displaced choose to stay where they are, or by trying to link the return to the political solution; and both means cause a great damage for Lebanon which strives to solve its accumulated problems and can never bear additional burdens. Although war broke out in the neighborhood, we have been receiving the largest share of its repercussions for years, and today it has exceeded our capabilities in all fields. We are therefore working daily on encouraging the Syrian displaced to return and on facilitating this return and ensuring its requirements.
Experience has taught us that gaining independence, no matter how hard and costly, remains easier than preserving it, especially in a world governed by interests and force, a world where ethics and justice are absent, and we are well aware of it.
Experience has also taught us that independence can turn into a mere commemoration and a formal folk celebration, free from any content or essence. Let us make it a priority to preserve our real independence and hold on to it, because it is the cornerstone upon which are built the country’s stability, freedom, security, peace and prosperity.”
Source: National News Agency