News & Media

May 22, 2013
Lecture of the US Ambassador to Lebanon

On Wednesday May 22, 2013, following the invitation of the International Relations Office at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), the United States Ambassador to Lebanon, Her Excellency Mrs. Maura Connelly, gave a lecture to the law and political sciences students at the University.

First of all, the Director of the International Affairs Office, Dr. Rima Mattar, welcomed the attendees and gave the floor for Ambassador Connelly, who stated, “The chief objective of U.S. foreign policy in Lebanon is a stable, sovereign, independent, and prosperous Lebanon that meets its international obligations, and the bedrock of this foundation is Lebanon’s democracy and its democratic institutions. One of Lebanon’s infinite strengths and simultaneous challenges is its diversity. Lebanon is at once a gateway to the West and the East and its multilingual and talented people use trade, education, and cross cultural understanding as a key to success, whether here in Lebanon or abroad. This diversity, however, and a history of civil war and sectarian conflict, also present challenges to Lebanon’s democratic system and sense of national identity.”

She added: “Lebanon’s leaders have used many instruments and principles to help guide this democratic system, the Constitution, the National Pact, the Taef Accord, and the Doha Agreement among others. The Lebanese people know that one of the requirements of free and fair elections is that they should be held on time. We appreciate the concerns voiced by many Lebanese that the electoral system can and should be improved. Any delays or uncertainties, however, as to the election schedule will not only cause many Lebanese to lose confidence in their democratic system, but it will shake the confidence of the international community in Lebanon’s democracy as well.”

She continued, “As the U.S., we do not support any particular law, but we do support the rule of law. Political leaders cannot pick and choose among the legal requirements they find convenient or conducive to their interests. The confidence of the Lebanese people should and must be the primary focus of Lebanese leaders, but the confidence of the international community in Lebanon is also consequential. The inability to hold timely elections could shake investor confidence in Lebanon at a time when its economy is already under stress from a sharp drop in agricultural exports and tourism.”

She stated, “We have made meaningful investments in key Lebanese institutions to help strengthen the foundations of the state for the benefit of the Lebanese people. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is working closely with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education on a joint initiative. We are also supporting municipalities in their ability to provide needed services to Lebanese citizens and become more accountable to their communities. We also support Lebanon’s legitimate security institutions, including the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to strengthen their capacity in securing Lebanon’s borders and defend the sovereignty and independence of the State, and to the Internal Security Forces (ISF) in order to ensure Lebanon’s security and stability while serving and protecting all of Lebanon’s citizens. Without security, there is no stability or sovereignty. And without stability and sovereignty, there is no independence or prosperity.”

Ambassador Connelly concluded her lecture by praising “…the generosity of the Lebanese people and how Lebanon continues to meet its international humanitarian obligations in keeping its borders open for refugees in need…That is why the United States has contributed $93 million to Lebanon to help manage the burden of refugees fleeing violence from Syria.”

Finally, a debate with the students was opened and a lunch was organized for the occasion, in the presence of the University President, Rev. Fr. Hady Mahfouz, and University officials.
Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
Tel.: (+961) 9 600 000
Fax : (+961) 9 600 100
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