President of the REPUBLIC of LEBANON, at the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
A summary of the president’ speech related to the Dialogue of Cultures:
Lebanon is the cradle of an old and ancient civilization. Its peace-loving and courageous people set sail from their peaceful shores towards the European continent, carrying with them elements of an advanced alphabet, and spreading in the Mediterranean realm and whatever horizons they were able to open, the spirit of communication, dialogue, and free exchange.
Lebanon is also a country that believes in the values of humanity and civilization. It represents the oldest parliamentary democracy in the Middle East. Its constitution that goes back to 1926 embraces freedom of opinion, freedom of belief, and justice and rejects confessionalism and intolerance. In its endeavor to put this democracy into practice, our nation experienced a distinctive alternation of power through the organization of periodic municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections despite all the crises, aggressions and wars that hindered for some time the capacity of its central authority and the normal functioning of its institutions.
The philosophy of the Lebanese entity has been based on dialogue, reconciliation and coexistence from the day its citizens agreed on the document of National Covenant in 1943, and subsequently on the document of National Reconciliation approved in Taif in 1989, which has been repeatedly stressed by the 2008 Doha Agreement.
In the face of the worsening international conflicts that herald a potential clash of civilizations, Lebanon might well represent an international need and a real laboratory for dialogue of cultures and religions.
In his two letters of 1989 and 1997, His Holiness late Pope John Paul II considered Lebanon “more than a country; it’s a message; a model of freedom and pluralism in the East and West and a space for dialogue and coexistence among different cultures and religions.”
With eighteen different sects coexisting on its soil, and having successfully preserved its democratic system and fundamental freedoms in spite of all challenges, Lebanon aspires today to become an international center for the management of dialogue of civilizations and cultures, hoping that the forces of good in the world would prevail, and that the peace process in the region would bring a just and comprehensive solution to all aspects of the conflict in the Middle East as soon as possible. I thank you, Mr. President.
Read the full Report: Address by H.E. General Michel Sleiman