France is for a powerful and sovereign Lebanon: Veteran French diplomat

PARIS: Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, a diplomatic adviser to former President Jacques Chirac, served as French ambassador in London, Berlin, Tokyo and Beijing between 1998 and 2017. Secretary-Common of the Ministry of International Affairs underneath President Emmanuel Macron, he retired final June. Gourdault-Montagne’s profession spanned a number of the excessive factors of French diplomacy in Lebanon, in addition to the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, the dying of PLO chief Yasser Arafat in Paris, and President Chirac’s refusal to take part within the US-led invasion of Iraqi in 2003. He spoke completely to Arab Information en Français on three broad subjects.

On the decision of the Particular Worldwide Tribunal for Lebanon.

On Feb. 14, 2005, I used to be in my automotive when President Chirac known as me, saying: “Rafic Hariri has simply been assassinated. It’s important to come again instantly in order that we will have a gathering to evaluate the scenario and you’ll go to Beirut to pay tribute to him and his household.”

I keep in mind this trauma for Lebanon, and for us Frenchmen. A champion of Lebanese sovereignty had been assassinated and France felt deeply related to Lebanon at that second. We supported the creation of the Particular Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

We wished an environment friendly seek for the reality for justice to prevail. A verdict has been delivered 15 years later. This verdict, like every other, disenchanted some folks, happy some and delighted others. I feel we should face realities.

The courtroom has labored with very competent magistrates to attempt to unravel interwoven obligations with what they’d at their disposal. So, the job they did was extraordinarily meticulous and tough.

The magistrates of the courtroom didn’t enterprise into politics, sticking strictly to the regulation. They’d recognized 4 culprits who weren’t impartial of their allegiances; they exonerated three of them and condemned just one.

It’s essential to learn between the strains to totally perceive who has been designated by means of this single condemnation, which some felt was not sufficient by way of justice being served.

This perpetrator will not be impartial in his allegiance. What’s necessary is that the tribunal continues to work on the assassination makes an attempt of (former Lebanese minister) Marwan Hamadeh and (former Lebanese deputy prime minister) Elias Murr.

It’s by means of this tenacity and stubbornness to result in justice that we are going to obtain the specified objectives. I feel these focused have understood that.

On the criticism surrounding French President Emmanuel Macron’s go to to Lebanon within the wake of the Aug. four explosion and once more for the centennial of Larger Lebanon.

We should remember the fact that the time of the French mandate, of colonization, is behind us. The time now could be one in every of solidarity and customary pursuits. It’s a undeniable fact that France has a historic previous with Lebanon that offers the Franco-Lebanese relationship one thing very singular, very particular and distinctive.

This historical past is predicated on the truth that France has accompanied Lebanon in its independence and that, for France, Lebanon is and should stay a mannequin of steadiness, openness, tolerance and democracy.

For years, now we have been witnessing the weakening of Lebanon. The difficulty, which was highlighted by the revolution in October and exacerbated by this explosion, is that Lebanon immediately is affected in its integrity, in its independence, and in its sovereignty.

It’s important to get Lebanon again on monitor. The nation has inner challenges to face, specifically the reforms and the overhaul of a political system the place clientelism paralyzes every part, whereas there are elites and an distinctive degree of training within the area. This nation should have the ability to go additional.

There clearly are exterior challenges. What we would like, and that is the goal of President Macron’s second go to, is to face beside Lebanon in its reforms, to steer the worldwide neighborhood alongside Lebanon.

We need to work to make Lebanon stronger, extra steady, extra affluent, in order that capital and investments return to Lebanon, reforms happen, and the nation, in its regional setting, can also be stronger.

What we share with Lebanon immediately is its stability within the area, its prosperity. The area and the nation want a powerful Lebanon. That’s our endgame. France has no different ambition and doesn’t dictate something in Lebanon; it solely urges its leaders to imagine their obligations.”

How the issue posed by Hezbollah could be resolved.

Hezbollah is a part of the Lebanese panorama. It has elected officers and the help of a demographically rising inhabitants. The entire level is to discover a steadiness from these information. It is usually necessary to grasp who this get together is working for.

It’s a Lebanese get together, whose chief, Hassan Nasrallah, says that it defends the Lebanese state. On the identical time, paradoxically, Hezbollah continues to refill on weapons that it systematically refuses to switch to the nationwide military, regardless of the calls for of the worldwide neighborhood.

That is subsequently an actual situation; this get together, which is Lebanese and which, on the identical time, pledges allegiance to a overseas state. That is an unacceptable scenario. Hezbollah, like different events, should contribute to Lebanon’s reforms, resulting in a powerful state with its rightful place in it.

Hezbollah is a trump card within the arms of Iran, a rustic that destabilizes the encircling states through its spiritual communities as a way to defend itself. It is necessary for France to proceed speaking to Iran.

It isn’t by isolating Tehran that we are going to weaken its allies, specifically Hezbollah. So, we need to proceed talks with Iran as a result of that nation has a spot within the area, not at any value, relatively inside the framework of balances that should be outlined by means of dialogue, and conferences the place everybody has their place.

Certainly, Iran is now taking part in a destabilizing function within the area, in opposition to which we should arrange ourselves as a way to focus on with them a handy resolution.

President Chirac had despatched me to talk with the Iranians at the moment. It’s a long-term course of that impacts some international locations akin to Syria, Lebanon, or Yemen. Doing so is extraordinarily necessary.

We consider that Hezbollah should have its rightful place in Lebanon, and Iran its rightful place within the area, however that get together’s allegiance can’t be to overseas powers if it needs to be a full fledged Lebanese get together.

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