ArDO: Yes we want Lebanon to be the Switzerland of the East and Beirut the Paris of the East


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General Michel Aoun's Speech

At the November 21, 2004 Gathering

Palais Des Congress
Paris, France

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to this gathering.

We would have wished this to be a celebration of Independence Day, but the boots of the occupier has erased our national holidays and made them less than memories, especially that the government in Beirut has canceled all celebrations of the occasion at all its embassies for some unfounded pretexts. It is also threatening with repression students who are demonstrating to recover that independence, and trying to impose on us its ignorant agents as national examples for us to follow. But the real and ultimate objective of these measures is to erase the very idea of independence and its symbols from the collective
memory of the Lebanese people. Such actions of treason can only come from puppets who owe their very existence to the Syrian occupation regime.

This corrupt political class did not come to power since 1990 by a mandate from the people, but by its own agency to the occupier and because it lacks the attributes of self-existence. It started its life in the Syrian incubators and survives thanks to a
directive regime whose foundation is the single ideology and political propaganda. As a result, the independence of the audio-visual media has ceased to exist while the written media has become very limited, which in turn makes the Lebanese people worried and apprehensive with the whirling events taking place around them. The constant pounding of misleading
propaganda has blinded the Lebanese people from distinguishing reason from delusion.

And so some took the wrong path even as they had good intentions, while others drowned under the rumors and adopted neutrality and political dhimmitude. But the majority of the Lebanese people became marginalized into mere spectators and were no longer concerned by the cause of their existence and destiny. And what is worse in this life than taking the wrong path while having good intentions, and more humiliating than being a Dhimmi in one's own country, and more demeaning than being marginalized in one's own cause?

But this propaganda web of lies, ignorance, insolence and repression that confronted the Free Patriotic Movement did not deter us from acting. It did not scare us, nor did it deter the Lebanese elite in the Movement and their supporters from persevering in keeping alive the flame of Lebanese dignity. Our struggle has been crowned by the elaboration of a new
supportive American and international policy that made Lebanon stand by itself in the framework of US policy and take back its natural place among the nations. What remains for us to do is find ourselves in Lebanon a new government that recognizes Lebanon and itself, and not pretend to fall short like the previous regime or be impotent like the present one.

With all the efforts exerted to reach the present phase of our struggle, it was necessary and natural that Lebanon testifies for itself and for the spoiled rights of the Lebanese people in front of the Foreign Relations Committee in Congress. And so by invitation, I delivered my testimony in an open session of the Foreign Relations Committee, which included a call for
the adoption of the Lebanon Sovereignty Restoration Act and a brief historical account of the events in Lebanon and the primary harmful role Syria played in bringing the country to its present political, economic and social ruin.

We testified for the truth and not for our own interests or the interests of the Mafia that rules Lebanon, which angered the mercenaries in Beirut and their masters in Damascus. And they ran media campaigns of slander and defamation, and not a single voice in the political establishment was free from the plague of false accusations and deviance.

We did not go to the United States out of enmity to Syria or to create an alliance against it, even if Syria was first in alienating Lebanon and refusing to dialog with those who demanded that it respects Lebanon's sovereignty.

We did not go to America with the goal of returning to Lebanon on an American tank, but to remove the Syrian tank from our land and give back to their rightful owners the property confiscated by the Syrian regime for decades.

We did not go to America to partition Lebanon, but to guarantee its unity, and not to settle the Palestinians, but to help resolve their cause and recover their identity.

We did not go to America to create alliances with the Judeo-Christians, nor to incite against Moslems, but to tell the Americans that the Christians do not need the Syrian to protect them against the Moslems, as the Syrian regime claims, and to say that Christian-Moslem coexistence is a foundation of the nation.

We went to America to say that the Lebanese War should not be labeled a civil war, and to help us establish an international inquiry and fact-finding about its real reasons and objectives because we want a history free from lies and falsification, a history of exactly what happened so we can teach it to our children so they know the truth and learn from it.

Finally, we went to America because Bashar Assad publicly declared that he will leave Lebanon only when he thinks he has to, and after a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Then, with the Syria Accountability and Lebanon Sovereignty Restoration Act having established the seriousness and determination of the US in handling the cause of Lebanon with this binding legislation, and when Syria refused to meet the US demands, circumstances became favorable for the adoption of a new resolution at the United Nations Security Council.
With an impulse by President Chirac, French diplomacy in concert with the Americans drafted resolution 1559 that covers the legal grounds for the recovery of Lebanon's independence, which brought the Lebanese cause to the highest international instances with mechanisms to follow through on implementation.

Again, the mercenaries of Damascus became angry, and a court day was appointed for my trial on February 8, 2005, pending my notification of the court date by posting it on the entrance of the Baabda presidential palace, which was my last known place of residence in Lebanon. According to the Prosecutor General, my current place of residence is unknown. Everyone should know that agents like these begin large and become small, unlike resistance fighters who start small then
grow large. I hold the regime, in all its institutions, responsible for the harm it has inflicted, and is inflicting, on the Lebanese people, and only it will harvest the crop of hatred and loathing it has dealt the people and sown in their hearts.

The actions of this government induce me to remind its ministers of Laval, the vice-president of the Vichy government who prosecuted DeGaulle and condemned him to death€¦In the end, the death penalty was executed on Laval himself after France was liberated.

The era of the Syria occupation is on its last gasp, and running forward won't cover up for the panic in the hearts of its agents. To bully the unarmed with weapons is only a veil to cover up for their chronic cowardice. Those people who bow their heads to the criminals and the perverts have no right, in a country that respects itself, hold the reigns of power.

A new dawn is rising, bearing with it great hopes, and as we look forward to a better tomorrow, we have to rise to our historic responsibilities and seek to learn from our travails. We have to leave the present for a better future that is in match with our needs and that brings us in tune with our time, so that we do not remain anchored backwards by those who belong in the past century.

We all know how bad conditions are for us at this moment, be they political, economic or social. Our presence outside the country and our gathering here are the result of those conditions, collectively or individually. However, our meeting tonight is not to rehash what the evil hands did in Lebanon, for everyone knows that by now. We are here tonight to talk about the future of Lebanon and together look at what we can do after the Syrian evacuation.

Lebanon's problems have become more numerous than can be counted because of the organized destruction carried out by the security agencies against the national institutions. For many of those institutions, only the bare bones remain and they have lost their representative character and their prerogatives. Lebanon today is managed like a Syrian province by a Syrian governor based in Anjar and assisted by Lebanese clerks. Those institutions can no longer bear the burden of their responsibilities in managing the affairs of the country in a way that is compatible with the spirit of our time, after losing the dynamic of change and progress in subservience to a stagnant Stalinist system. We need to review their structures and their responsibilities.

Our democracy is a shell with no substance. Powers are exercised arbitrarily and without checks and controls. Security agencies attack their people instead of protecting them. The judiciary has been converted from a protector of the people's rights to an instrument of political repression. By far, the greatest catastrophe remains the state of ruin of our economic affairs as we stand on the verge of bankruptcy. This economic ruin is caused by the organized theft of the nation's resources and public utilities, the embezzlement of the treasury under supervision by Syrian Intelligence and the participation of the Lebanese State. According to a detailed study backed by facts and numbers presented by Mr. Joe Faddoul at a session on Lebanon
at the French Senate, the size of the embezzled funds and wasted public monies exceeds the public debt accumulated by the nation.

Mafia actions are practiced officially in broad daylight, in sight and within earshot of the average citizen. Even those who lend us money know in detail what goes on in Lebanon. Our officials' reputation is not something to be proud of, and this reputation
stains every one of us because our silence and our lack of a sense of revolt against it means that we accept these practices as part of our traditions, if they have not already become so.

This situation cannot persist, and we cannot begin to deal with it before we end the Syrian occupation that has a hold on every fiber of the State. Fortunately, this objective is now within reach in the context of a present international climate that is supportive of Lebanon. But we the Lebanese have to allow it to happen under the best of conditions. It is in the interests of everyone that things move forward in a climate of understanding that reassures everyone and removes the obsession with suspicions that reflects the thinking and justification for everything Syria does and everything the advocates of Syrian hegemony

For the past year and a half approximately, and through interviews in the "Nahar" and "L'Orient-Le-Jour" dailies, I called on the Lebanese to have a dialogue on the post-Syrian withdrawal phase, but they did not at the time imagine that this would actually take place. But now that the withdrawal is expected, I reiterate my call to the Lebanese people, parties and active forces, as well as to the Syrian State to officially participate in an open dialogue to be held in a safe third country, in the hope of reaching a decision about the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon that would provide an honorable exit for everyone.

This conference could be held within two months of this date, and for this purpose, a FPM committee will be set up to make the necessary contacts and prepare, with the possibility of expanding it to include other parties interested in participating. We hope that those concerned will positively receive this invitation, irrespective of their opinions and positions, in order to prove our ability at engaging in dialogue and assuming our historic responsibilities. There is no room for obstinacy and rejection on matters of existence and destiny. Those who reject this meeting will be held responsible for all negative developments that may arise in the future. In such a case, we would lose the choices we want today and be forced to accept their opposites in the future.

And if Syria and its loyalists decline to participate, it becomes incumbent on the opposition - in all its segments - to meet and confront all possible scenarios, especially the upcoming parliamentary elections. This imposes on everyone a unification of
effort and position on the issues that will arise then, and the elaboration of alternatives to the present regime.

To preserve the nation we have to protect our national principles, putting aside our internal political competition set forth by the right to be different and without which no democracy can stand. The glimpses of such a convergence of the Lebanese around those principles were spontaneous and natural at the demonstration on Independence Day.

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