WSG English Interview with ALMUSTAQBAL newspaper summer 2011
Nicolas Kahwaji: The Lebanese diaspora remains without any Lebanese diplomatic coverage
By Randa Yassir :
A great part of Lebanon strength resides in the Lebanese diaspora, the Lebanese emigrants always supported Lebanon and its people in all possible ways, and in all situations.
The WLCU harvested through 52 years of successful work, a global representation of the Lebanese abroad.
ALmustaqbal had an interview with Dr Kahwaji, (a Canadian citizen, living in Canada) He is the son of the ABRA village in south Lebanon.
About WLCU he said: It is an International NGO, associated with the DPI of the UN, non religious, non political, representing the interests of the Lebanese diaspora.
It is during the mandate of the current WP Mr Eid Chedrawi, that the WLCU accomplished a higher level of recognition at the UN (“accreditation with ECOSOC”).
In the nineties our Union applied to the UN system to be recognized as an NGO, and as a representative of the Lebanese abroad (Intishar).
In 2009 we were accepted and the WLCU became associated with the department of the public information.
Thanks to the dedication of our representative in NY, Mr Sid Chidiac, who provided a permanent presence at the UN headquarter in NY by attending all meetings.
The ministry of foreign affairs, and the Dual presence of WLCU.
Kahwaji assures that the WLCU is not divided, but there is a duality of its relationship with the ministry of foreign affairs.
it All happened when the director general of the ministry of foreign affairs, started intervening in our affairs and asked George Antoine (WP from Brazil) to keep his post ,even after his term expired.
Later he called for a Congress at the Coral Beach in Beirut (called the 11 congress) and proclaimed George Antoine president (for 10 years in total), after him he imposed Mr Ahmad Nasser a WP for over six years.
It is important to mention here that the bylaw gives only 2 years for the president mandate.
Last year a man called Albert Matta split from Ahmad Nasser group and appointed himself a “WP” during a meeting in Beirut.
It is good to note that the people around Matta and Nasser are a very limited number, they are not productive, and they may have a private agenda.
They falsified the laws in the nineties, they introduced the article 12 of the ministry of emigrations, where the director general of the emigrant services became able to approve or disapprove the representation of any Lebanese society registered anywhere in any country outside Lebanon.
We are totally against this article , and we wonder , how a Lebanese government employee, thinks he can recognize or not recognize a foreign organization registered legally in the country of residence, and had a non Lebanese citizen as members(Lebanese descent) ???
He explains that our WLCU participated in the dialogue (with the other group) in the past, to find out that this process is not serious at all.
We are recognized in the UN system, the highest authority in the world, we have a worldwide legal existence as a representative of the Lebanese abroad.
It is a shame that we are not recognised by the Lebanese state because this power of recognition is given exclusively to the director General of emigration.
We would like to be recognized in our mother country but we are not going to beg for this recognition.
Our problem is that we are dealing with a strange mentality inside the ministry of foreign affairs. They wanted to control us by using the article 12 and a failing totalitarian approach.
He added: We trust that our World Council represents over 10 million Lebanese abroad;
We hope to have a clear relationship with the Lebanese state, because together we could achieve a lot.
The realisation of many Cultural and Social projects is disrupted by one part of the department of our government, and I mean the ministry of the emigration.
The Diplomatic presence and the election of 2013.
Kahwaji indicated that the participation of the Lebanese emigrants in the national political life- from their country of residence- was always an objective of the WLCU.
But the new proposed electoral law is not fair, because –for example-we should have at least 200 voters from every district to be able to have an electoral office. This is impossible to have in most of the dispersed Lebanese communities.
We were happy to hear that we are going to participate in the electoral process of the 2013, but practically the ministry was not serious about the preparation and did not fulfill its duty.
About the Lebanese Diplomatic presence:
There are 36 embassies around the world without any authentic ambassador, only an acting unqualified “charge’ d’affairs”.
It is a deteriorating situation.
In some Lebanese communities, the emigrants feel abandoned without any diplomatic presence.
He pointed that the WLCU is executing a cultural strategy prepared by Mr Antoine Ghanem from Australia (Chairmen of the culture and Heritage affairs), to celebrate the world wide Lebanese presence by erecting a statue of the Lebanese emigrant in every city, adding to that the “Lebanese cultural day celebrations “,etc etc .
He highlighted the achievement of the social affairs committee presided by Dr Wissam Salame from Belgium, in providing medical services to the Lebanese in the remote villages of the north and the south, and by helping CARITAS sell its products made by the orphans and widows in Lebanon.
The Website and the connection of Youth:
We are also trying to connect the youth descent to the mother land, by launching a new Website with 5 languages (Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and Arabic) to facilitate the connection with them as they do not speak the Arabic languages.
We hope with the new Website, we could teach them the classical Arabic language and the Lebanese spoken Language, and to teach them the Lebanese culture in their native language.
Since 40 years or so The WLCU gives a scholarship to students, in BC Canada we recently called it: the Gibran Tueini Scholarship to keep his memory alive.
Finally Kahwaji invites every emigrant to register his children in Lebanon and to give them the Lebanese citizenship, to teach them the Lebanese Heritage, also invite them to participate in the future elections.
To the ministry of foreign affairs he said: stop wasting your time in fighting us, and hurting everybody by dividing the diaspora.
Use your valuable time and energy to create programs to translate and spread the Lebanese heritage to the diaspora languages, so the descent will have the opportunity to learn about Lebanon ,its history and culture.