Key Speeches

Introduction > Barook Festival for the return of the displaced – September 9, 1994

The return of the displaced is a testimony ttha Lebanon’s unity has vanquished.
Dear friends,
The reconciliation we are celebrating today is not a reconciliation of foes, but that of brothers living on the same land. The land has remained for all of you, awaiting the return of its people. It is a land that blossoms when you are united and dries whilst division.
We share a common destiny, we share history and traditions, and we have the same culture.
We all praise Fakhreddine, the public of Antelias, Patriarch Howayek and all our fathers who have fought hand in hand for independence.
The reconciliation we are sponsoring today is a pass over from insularity towards openness to the nation. 
A country known for its diversity cannot run on sectarian dialogue, we must move away from fanaticism and sectarianism toward a multicultural nation and a modern civil society. Only commitment to Lebanon over confessions will prosper the nation.
We must not surrender to fear and despair, we have to achieve reconciliation.
And it is when we relinquish our personal interest in favor of the country’s that we achieve reconciliation. We have to respect the institutions, their roles and approaches.
The real struggle is not sectarian my friends, nor is it ideological. It is a struggle between those who want to build a state that serves the entire nation and the ones who don’t want a state unless it serves their personal interests.
The authority of the state must spread over all the regions bringing stability and security, military, social, economic, developmental, cultural and national security to the whole population.
Our country has been drained by destruction and bloodshed, it is tired of oppression, displacement and immigration; our country is in pain.
Is it by bickering that we relinquish this pain? Is it by quarrels that we return hope to our children?
Lebanon is for all its citizens, it can neither be constructed nor destroyed by one party.
Lebanon can only prosper when you are united, and it is our unity that re-established national peace, and that will protect Lebanon from foreign dangers and interests. Let us help push prosperity forward.
Freedom of expression is an attribute of democracy until it hinders our country’s balance. We cannot impose on our friends in the international community to respect our rights and support our reconstruction process when we question the credibility of one another and tend to exaggerate differences.
We will also support freedom and equal opportunities to all the citizens. Our freedom of belief at all levels is a sacred right that we share together even if we don’t always agree. We have to solve our problems not by insulting one another or through media campaigns.
Is anyone of you more patriotic or less patriotic than the other?
We have to face the crisis with maturity and work effectively toward solutions. We have accomplished a lot, but we still have many challenges.
We must work together on burying the residues of the past fifty years and the tragedies of the past fifteen years. It is our destiny to face this challenge.
Postponement and suicide were means to run away from dues, and look where they have brought us. Incitement, monopoly, chaos and corruption are the enemies of Lebanon and its people.
It’s been five years since we launched the slogan “Rebuilding what has been destroyed”, but we still have not been capable of restoring the state, its sovereignty, security, dignity, position, status and institutions, returning the displaced to their homes and re-establishing economic, social, educational and cultural prosperity.
 For the past five years we have been working on removing the traces of war, we haven’t even started planning for the future. Civil peace is not just words; it’s a relation of trust. And it is on trust that we can truly build a country.
Lebanon has declared its stance on resettlement, the state and its people are against resettlement.
And Elias Hraoui did not breach the constitution article stipulating rejection to the fragmentation and division of our country.
We agreed on our Constitution, the National Pact and co-existence and we will respect them. We have the national will and we are determined to proceed in the peace process.
Dear friends,
Freedom, unity and sovereignty will not be regained until the displaced return to their lands.
We have said more than once: Lebanon will not regain its identity unless its scattered and displaced citizens return to their homes. The displaced have endured tragedies and a lot of suffering. We are doing our best to accelerate their return. We have made achievements in this regard and the parliament approved a law allocating funds to this end. This money will be used to remove the debris, repair the infrastructure, and rebuild the houses. 
I would like to thank my friend His Excellency Walid Jumblatt who has invested a lot of his time and effort into this reconciliation and the return of the displaced to the mountain. Today in Barook and later in Maazrait el Chouf and Maaser el Chouf, we hope to see all the displaced one day return to their lands all over the country, as their return is the ultimate testimony that our unity has vanquished.
My friends,
My thoughts go to the people of the South and the West Bekaa. We will continue fighting for our rights for freedom and sovereignty, our rights to our lands and the release of Lebanese prisoners in Israel. We reject violence, we are advocates of peace and we are working to achieve the right for peace.
Our armed forces are ready to protect the security of the breached lands as soon as Israel withdraws its forces.
We have been called to establish just and comprehensive peace on the basis of implementing international resolutions.
My brother President Hafez al Assad and I shall remain committed to protecting our legitimate rights by implementing the international resolutions.
Dear friends,
From Barook today, I would like to send a message to the future generations: know your country from its history and traditions, not from daily political rhetoric and be aware of what has to be done to guarantee its future.
Our gathering today, is an incentive to restore confidence and a victory of our unity. We wish you the best in reconstructing this land.
This is your land, may your lives be prosperous.

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