Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020

Lebanese Embassy in South Korea celebrates Independence Day

Lebanon will remain committed to peaceful development, mutual cooperation

NNA - South Korea - The Lebanese Embassy in South Korea held a reception to mark the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of Lebanon's Independence, in the presence of 68 ambassadors representing Arab and foreign countries, Korean officials and members of the Lebanese expatriate community.

The number of attendees was estimated at 350, including Korean ambassadors who served in Lebanon and heads of the Korean contingent units operating within the UNIFIL peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon, and a large number of military attaches.

After the Lebanese and Korean anthems, Lebanon's Ambassador to Korea, Antoine Azzam, delivered a speech, saying, "It is a distinct pleasure to welcome you tonight. November 22nd marks the 75th Independence Day of the Lebanese Republic. We are glad to get together to celebrate this auspicious occasion."

"Dear friends, what is that makes us the Lebanese nation that we are?" Azzam questioned, adding, "The answer is all around us. We are a blessed nation where social religious cohesion is the solid foundation that guarantees our stability. We are the keepers of a country that is small in land area but immense in natural beauty. We are a people that the world describes as warm generous and welcoming! We are a country blessed by its geography but cursed because of its geography."

"I stand before you as a representative of a country that has since its inception carried the message of freedom, concord and moderation, and is still striving to consecrate and consolidate this message in spite of the challenges and threats that have targeted both the east and the west models of coexistence and cultural diversity," Azzam went on.

"As described by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, I quote: Lebanon is not a county. It is a message, a message of freedom, an example of pluralism for east and west," he added.

"Today, we celebrate our Independence Day in a context dominated by major Arab developments. Our country and the region are undergoing major transformations in addition to the persistence of the phenomenon of terrorism. In this context, we wish to laud the contribution of the Lebanese armed forces in countering terrorism and reiterate that there is no place for terrorism and extremism in Lebanon, and call the international community to support the Lebanese armed forces in their efforts," the Ambassador indicated.

"In fact, the President of the Republic of Lebanon, H.E. General Michel Aoun, declared in his investiture speech that Lebanon has always been committed to respect the chart of the league of the Arab States and the international resolutions. Lebanon therefore adopts an independent foreign policy in compliance with the United Nations resolutions and international law," he underscored.

"The repercussions of the Syrian crisis and the immigration of over 1.5 million Syrian displaced to Lebanon, in addition to 500 thousand Palestinian refugees hosted by Lebanon represent a serious threat to the existence of the country itself. Over 1/3 of people living on Lebanese soil are refugees," Azzam pointed out.

"It must be brought to your attention that the developments in the Arab world and the chaos affecting some Arab countries will inevitably affect western countries and their internal security," he underlined.

"It is primarily required to engage seriously and urgently, within the framework of the integrated process to impose a just and comprehensive solution to all aspects of the conflict in the Middle East based on the resolutions of international legitimacy, Madrid terms of reference and the Arab peace initiative in all its provisions," stressed Azzam.

"This process would thus lay the foundations for a project of a broader dialogue and understanding between the east and the west and among civilizations, cultures and religions," he emphasized, deeming it "a long overdue historical understanding, following decades marked by hostility and feelings of injustice and decades of destructive wars and missed opportunities."

"Consequently, it is also required to reach a fair and final solution to the question of Palestine that respects the Palestinian refugees right of return. Also a political solution is sought to guarantee the safe return of Syrian displaced to their country," the Lebanese Ambassador indicated.

Azzam went on to state that "Lebanon hosted the meeting of state parties to the convention on cluster bombs that concluded with the 'Beirut declaration' which constituted a defining moment in the course of implementing this convention, and although addressing this issue stems from humanitarian considerations, this meeting has highlighted the terrible fallout of these weapons which have been heavily used by Israel during the aggression of July 2006. These weapons still threaten civilians on their farmland and the innocent children in the open field of their games in South Lebanon. Israel refuses to surrender the maps of the land mines and still considers itself above international law."

"On the other hand, we reaffirm that we are strongly attached to our full sovereign and economic rights over our territorial water and exclusive economic zone and to our rights in the exploitation of our natural resources. Be they on land or deep in the sea away from way designs or threats," he corroborated.

"As we celebrate this dear national occasion and on behalf of the government and the people of Lebanon, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude and deep appreciation to the Republic of Korea for assisting Lebanon and contributing in its recovery. The Korean government contributed in rebuilding infrastructure and in security projects, as well as student scholarships, rural and municipal development programs nationwide, and the most precious gift offered to Lebanon is the participation of the brave Children of Korea in the peacekeeping force within the UNIFIL since 2007," Ambassador Azzam affirmed.

"The Korean support not only reflects humanitarian concerns and historical ties but also proves the importance that Korea gives to sustainable development and restoration of a sovereign and developed Lebanon. The Republic of Lebanon supports all initiatives to restore peace and denuclearization and unification of the Korean peninsula," he stressed.

"Lebanon will remain committed to peaceful development and win-win cooperation. We will continue to work with the international community and make greater contribution to world peace and development...God bless the Republic of Korea, and long live Lebanon!" Azzam concluded.

In turn, the Korean Government Representative, Hong Jin Wook, delivered a speech in which he expressed his delight to partake in Lebanon's national occasion.

"I am delighted to be here at this auspicious occasion in celebration of Lebanon's National Day, marking Lebanon's 75th Independence Day. First of all, I would like to offer my congratulations on the successful parliamentary election in May. Lebanon overcame a two-yearlong institutional stalemate and presidential vacuum through patience and dialogue. The parliamentary election was a reaffirmation of Lebanon's steadfast belief in democratic principles. I have every confidence that a new government will be launched in the near future to guide Lebanon into a new era," the Korean official indicated.

"Lebanon is widely acknowledged and respected for achieving harmony between different ethnic groups and religions. Lebanese society is often described as a beautifully woven mosaic. Such diversity and tolerance are the biggest strengths of Lebanon. I firmly believe that through its commitment to pluralism and diversity, Lebanon will continue to serve as a source of peaceful dialogue in the Middle East," the Korean official representative went on.

"While Korea and Lebanon are far apart geographically, they are in fact closer than it may seem. In 2007, the Korean Government decided to send 300 troops to Lebanon for peacekeeping activities. The Unit-dispatched to serve as a member of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) and still engaging in efforts to stabilize areas of southern Lebanon-is now the very symbol of friendship between Korea and Lebanon," he pointed out.

"Korea also strongly supports Lebanon's drive for economic development. Korea is a ready and willing partner for Lebanon, in areas such as construction, healthcare and cultural exchange," he emphasized.

"The Korean Government is aware of the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, and fully empathizes with Lebanon's situation in this regard. Lebanon is a country of 4.5 million people, and is currently hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Korea will continue to work with the international community so that the Syrian refugee crisis can be resolved in a peaceful and humanitarian way," the Korean official stated.

He concluded by saying, "Once again, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations on the National Day of Lebanon. I would now like to invite you to join me in a toast: to peace and prosperity for Lebanon and Korea...and to the lasting friendship between our peoples. Cheers!"

Source: National News Agency

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