Historic Conference Successfully Concludes Work in Beirut. Five Hundred Attendees from Around the World.
The “Lebanese Diaspora Energy” Conference organized in Beirut by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, concluded on a high-note with many of the 500 participants agreeing that the two-day meeting was well-organized, considering the short preparation time, and an effective starting-point for solidifying the bond between the Lebanese living in Lebanon and those living abroad.
Lebanon’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gebran Bassil, in his concluding address to the conference attendees, expressed his deep thanks to each and every person who responded positively to his invitation and took the time to attend the Beirut conference. He said the aim of the gathering was to “secure the continuity” of the relationship between the citizens of Lebanon and the Lebanese in the diaspora “no matter what changes take place around the world.”
Minister Bassil added that there would be a special “Emigrants’ Medal” to be presented to those of Lebanese origin who currently held political positions around the world, of which he said there were about 40. Although all of them received a special invitation to attend the Beirut gathering, many had apologized due to the short notice of the invitation. The “Emigrants’ Medal” was authorized by a decree from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and personally signed by the President of the Lebanese Republic, H.E. Mr. Michel Sleiman, just two days before his term officially expired on May 26. Those recipients present at the “Energy” Conference received their medals as part of the closing ceremony, while the others who could not attend will receive theirs via diplomatic pouch.
The large number of participants exceeded the expectations of the conference organizers. Minister Bassil added,” Everyone one of you deserves to be honored, and we apologize if there was any mistakes. Our focus is to ensure the continuity of the relationship between the Lebanese of the diaspora and Lebanon.”
“We share the same Lebanese personality, we live a duality that the Lebanese in the diaspora are a reflection of the Lebanese living in Lebanon and the enrichment of that relationship reflects positively on all levels. The dialogue between the Lebanese in the diaspora and in Lebanon will not become an issue when the government of Lebanon is strong, because then the relationship between the two will be balanced.
“When we took the slogan, ‘Our border is the World,’ we considered that you Lebanese in the Diaspora form an integral part of Lebanon. Each one of you left stones, land not planted, left with tears and sadness for the homeland. But each of you have written a success story in the diaspora and here I ask you to the keep that flame of love for Lebanon alive in your heart, while keeping your success in the diaspora. Meanwhile, I ask you to come back and reorganize those stones you left behind and to make of them houses, and I ask you to preserve your land so that you can come back whenever you want because we are waiting here for you.”
The final communique issued from the conference emphasized the issues that came out of the diplomatic, economic session which took place at the beginning of May and attended by representatives of Lebanon’s diplomatic corps from around the world.
In summary it emphasized the common interest between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Education Ministry to establish Lebanese schools in the diaspora.
Second, it stressed the importance of using digital technology between Lebanon and the Lebanese in the diaspora through the establishment of the project “Lebanon Connect,” hoping that the Lebanese story in the diaspora will become the Lebanese success story of Lebanon itself and that it would lead to the establishment of an effective international Lebanese lobby.
Third, it suggested the formation of a Business Council from the emigrant community to help local Lebanese businesses in Lebanon.
Forth, it recognized the importance of maintaining relations with Lebanese writers, thinkers and artists in the diaspora and emphasize their role in highlighting Lebanon’s wonderful cultural legacy.
At the conclusion of the conference, which was held the recently built Hilton Habtoor Hotel in Sin-el-Fil, Minister Bassil handed out a number of awards and medals. The first award went to Engineer Mr. Albert Matta, in his capacity as the Dean of Lebanese Emigrants in the Gulf States. Also receiving awards were: businessman Mr. Nicola Shatila from Switzerland; Dr. Nadi Hakim and Dr. Paul Serhal from France; businessman Mr. Milad Khoury from Brazil; academician Mr. Annibal Khouzami from Argentina.
Emigrants’ Medals were presented to Senator Sam Zakhem from the United States; Swedish deputy, Mr. Roger Haddad; the Argentinian Minister of Health, Mr. Juan Mansour; Canadian parliamentarian, Ms. Maria Mourani; Brazilian deputy, Mr. Gabriel Challita; and French deputy, Mr. Henri Gebrayel.
Condensed from Almohajer magazine