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Opening address by the Honourable Minister at the Second Ministerial Meeting in Support of the Lebanese Security Forces

(The original text is only the one actually delivered)

Prime Minister Gentiloni, Prime Minister Hariri, UN Secretary-General Guterres, Arab League Secretary-General Aboul Gheit, High Representative of the Union and Vice President of the European Commission Mogherini, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I have the honour of welcoming you to the Farnesina for the Second Ministerial Meeting in Support of the Lebanese Security Forces.

Today’s meeting is in line with our joint continuous commitment made in June 2014, when the then Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini and the Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti, in this very hall, chaired the First Ministerial Meeting in Support of the Lebanese Security Forces.

The bond between Europe and Lebanon is evident and indissoluble. It is a fact corroborated by history and geography. And also by mythology: Europa, the Greek goddess, daughter of Agenor, the King of Tyre, was Lebanese. Therefore, we owe to Europa, a Lebanese goddess and queen, the name of our continent, which is today called on to acknowledge its Mediterranean origins and destiny, and to support Lebanon in the name of the pluralism that is the founding principle of the European civilization.

In this connection, let me recall an anecdote: during the Lebanese civil war, the Italian Cultural Institute in Beirut continued to operate with two sections: one in the eastern and the other in the western district. Its split presence contributed to keeping alive the culture of dialogue in a divided Beirut.  

And the same values inspire the mission of the Italian contingent of UNIFIL: in favour of peace and security but always in the respect for the different cultures and sensitivities of local populations.

Indeed, as Pope John Paul II once said, Lebanon is “more than a Country: it is a mission and a message of pluralism” of different faiths, cultures, and identities that co-exist side by side. A mission and a message that Italy’s foreign policy promotes and defends not only in Lebanon but throughout the Mediterranean.

Our goal is to combat the logic of polarized factions and divisive ideologies and instead promote the virtues of dialogue and mediation. It is with this spirit that today we all want to reaffirm our strongest possible support to Lebanon’s institutions, starting from its security forces. And not only to effectively control its territory and borders, but also and above all to revive in Lebanese citizens a sense of security and confidence in the institutions.

Strengthening institutional security forces also means working to make Lebanon immune from the aggressive influence of non-State actors and from the impact of regional crises. To this end, it is necessary to assure broad support to the Lebanese Government, thus enabling the security forces to consolidate their authority over the whole national territory.

Therefore, today’s meeting, in order to be successful, needs the commitment of the whole international community and above all of: the Lebanese Government; the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG); and the United Nations, whose Secretary-General Guterres I thank for having accepted to co-chair this Meeting.

I thank you all for being here today and now have the honour of passing the floor to Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri.