Earlier this month, the new Lebanese government finally agreed upon a cabinet statement which it will seek to enact in the coming months. Nearly two weeks later, the statement has still not been officially translated into English and published on government websites. We believe in a global world this is necessary.
For the record, therefore, we present an unofficial translation of the statement.
Your Excellency the President, and honourable representatives,
Despite the exceptional circumstances caused by security and economic concerns, and despite the difficult local and regional pressures, it was vital that the national interest prevailed. The consensus government, which represents the national interest, presents itself to your honourable assembly, hoping to gain your confidence, having gained the confidence of the political forces participating in it. It is the government in which the Lebanese people perceived a glimmer of hope to improve their circumstances, and to strengthen their safety, security and national immunity.
The government has seen the light to prepare the ground for great achievements and follow them up. It does not claim to be able to implement all the aspirations of Lebanese citizens in the short period allocated to it, and we will not promise anything except that which is logical, possible and obtainable, and that which comprises the country’s top priorities. At the forefront of these priorities is, without question, the issue of security and stability. That being the case, our government hopes to form a political safety net, in order to bolster the country’s security and fill the gaps which have been infiltrated by those plotting to sow discord and instability.
Our government stresses the state’s unity, power and exclusive authority in all matters pertaining to the general policy of the country, including the protection of Lebanon and the preservation of its national sovereignty. It likewise stresses its commitment to the principles and precepts of the constitution, the rules of the democratic system, the national pact and the application of the Taif accords.
Our government attaches exceptional importance to the fight against terrorism in all its forms and aims, by all means available to the state. It will continue to boost the capabilities of the army and security forces, so that they can carry out this duty, along with their duties to protect the borders and strengthen security. In this regard, we will accelerate the process of equipping the army through various sources of funding, particularly through the generous Saudi donation to the sum of 3 billion dollars.
We consider the most important challenge facing the government on a local level to be the creation of the appropriate atmosphere for running the presidential elections as scheduled, respecting the constitution and applying the principle of rotation of power required by our democratic system. Likewise, the government pledges to seek a new law for parliamentary elections, and it is working on finalising the administrative decentralisation draft law, and referring it to Parliament to be passed.
This government, in its comprehensive nature and professional conduct, will work on creating a positive atmosphere for the national dialogue, which the President is calling for and overseeing, and on resuming the discussion about national defence strategies. Likewise, the government will follow up on and finalize decisions made in former national dialogue sessions.
Our government will strive towards affirming the principle of the dialogue, maintaining national peace, not resorting to violence or arms, moving away from sectarian and confessional incitement, and preventing the country from sliding towards discord, which will achieve national unity and bolster internal strength in the face of dangers.
All this will be respecting – and further to – the decisions of the national dialogue which emerged from the discussions in Parliament and from the national dialogue committee in the presidential palace in Baabda.
The positive reverberations created by the formation of this government have been echoed in the general mood of the country. We hope that this atmosphere, whose results have been felt in the financial markets, marks an entrance into a new phase that will witness recovery of the national economic cycle, which will be reflected well in the living standards of our citizens.
The government understands the general financial problems of the state, and it will work on addressing them and will take all possible measures to kick-start the main economic sectors, at the forefront of which is tourism, which has suffered a great setback. We will, in parallel, embark upon the matter of improving living standards, through dialogue with employers and unions and using all available means. And it will keep track of two draft laws – one on wage correction, one on retirement and social security for the elderly – that are currently in Parliament.
The government of national interest will give particular attention to the issue of energy, and pledges to continue and accelerate the measures related to issuing licenses for the drilling and extraction of oil. It confirms the total adherence to Lebanon’s right to its waters and its oil and gas riches, and it pledges to speed up the necessary measures in order to secure its maritime borders, particularly in the disputed areas with the Israeli enemy.
For such an endeavour, we have to pump life into state departments through filling the many vacancies in its staff. The government will strive to undertake this rapidly.
With regard to the disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr and his companions in Libya, the government will redouble its efforts on all levels, and will support the official follow-up committee with the aim of freeing them and returning them home safely.
Further to the measures that have already been authorised, the government will put in place clear mechanisms to deal with the issue of displaced Syrians. Their number has exceeded Lebanon’s capacity to cope, in terms of the repercussions on the security, political, social and economic situation.
The measures will enable the government to deal with their temporary presence and the multi-layered impact it is having. It will allow both Arab nations and the international community to shoulder their responsibility in this matter and enable Lebanon to undertake its ethical and humanitarian duties, which will facilitate their return – whenever that may be – to their homes.
Our government will seek to implement the conclusions of the International Support Group for Lebanon, held on 25thSeptember 2013, which the Security Council subsequently adopted, and will follow up on the associated meetings in France and Italy, among others. In this regard, the government will initiate projects and programs aimed at stemming the economic and social effects resulting from the Syrian crisis, and its funding mechanism [will come] from pledged donations to the credit fund set up by the World Bank, on the condition that it happens in accordance with the rules of the constitution and the applicable laws.
Our government is keen to strengthen the relationships with brotherly and friendly nations and co-ordinate with them, and affirm the partnership with the European Union in the framework of reciprocal respect for national sovereignty. In the same way, it seeks to set up the most favourable links with bodies of international law; it will respect their decisions and commit to implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1701, to help extend Lebanese sovereignty over all of the country’s territory, and commit to the treaties of the UN and the Arab League.
On the basis of the state’s responsibility and role in preserving Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence, unity and the security of its citizens, the government affirms the duty and efforts of the state to liberate the Shebaa farms and the Kfar Shouba hills and the Lebanese part of the village of al-Ghajr, through all legitimate means. It likewise affirms the right of the Lebanese citizens to resist the Israeli occupation and repel its attacks and recover occupied territory.
Wisdom demands, in these tense times our region is going through, that we strive to reduce our losses as much as possible. Accordingly, we commit to the policy of disassociation, we fortify our country in the best way possible against repercussions from crises in neighbouring countries, and we will not put at risk its civil peace, its safety, or the sustenance of its people.
This is the ‘national interest’ as we understand it. On this basis we approach your esteemed assembly requesting your confidence. Thank you.
Translation by Hannah Abdel-Massih