Dr. Sfeir at Lebanese Diaspora Energy France
Posted on 11/04/2018
 
Bank of Beirut Chairman and CEO, Dr. Salim Sfeir, participated in the Lebanese Diaspora Energy – France 2018 Conference in Paris, in the presence of many successful political, business and social figures from Lebanon, France and various countries.
 
On this occasion, Dr. Sfeir mentioned the importance of the Lebanese Diaspora in France and in the world, inviting them to unite around our nation as they are our best ambassadors and Lebanon is proud of them. He also praised the role of France in supporting Lebanon through various initiatives.
 
Dr. Sfeir’s full speech:
 
H.E. Prime Minister Saad Hariri,
H.E. Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire,
H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gebran Bassil,
H.E. French Ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher,
H.E. Lebanese Ambassador to France, Rami Adwan,
Members of the Lebanese Diaspora in France,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dearest friends,
 
Amin Maalouf rightly says in “les Désorientés”: 'the country whose absence saddens and obsesses me is not the one I left when I was young, but the one I dreamed of and which never managed to see the light”.
 
These powerful words describe the Lebanon we dream of and the country we would like to see emerging… and what better place than Paris to talk about our dream of a country?
 
Needless to say that France, cradle of human rights, humanity and history and model country for many people thirsty for democracy across the world, has always supported Lebanon as a protective sister...
 
We thank President Macron for his steady support to Lebanon, to its people and to its stability... Special thanks also go to the French government represented today by H.E. Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire. My warmest regards Your Excellency.
Mr. Saad Hariri has, as well, deployed all efforts alongside France so that these conferences in support of Lebanon materialize. Thank you Mr. Prime Minister.
We cannot also forget our dynamic Foreign Affairs Minister, Gebran Bassil whom I thank for having us again as privileged partner of the LDE Forum who chose this time to land at the heart of Europe, in Paris where major actions and initiatives have and will take place in support of Lebanon.
 
After Paris I, II and III, the economic conference CEDRE took place yesterday… another initiative by President Macron and a driver of success to promote projects and investments between our two countries.
 
We dearly hope that this conference will allow the launch of a vast investment program that Lebanon so badly needs.
 
However, we are fully aware that international aid alone is not sufficient!
 
If our State does not put in place structural reforms to boost growth, create job opportunities, and restore investors’ confidence, Lebanon will not be able to survive, and its intolerable indebtedness will blow up in its own face.
 
If our State does not improve its infrastructure by eradicating corruption, no goodwill nor foreign donations will be able to change anything.
 
You might find my statement distressing but this is unfortunately the reality, and it perfectly aligns with the experts’ opinion who see Lebanon as a dying patient firmly holding onto machines to stay alive. And here again, France is leading this reanimation process.
 
Though we are very grateful for this initiative, we believe that CEDRE will remain a dead letter if Lebanon doesn’t do anything to save itself.
Fighting the rampant corruption and mismanagement is a long-term challenge that Lebanon must surely take to survive.
 
We also believe that for the private sector to take advantage of CEDRE's opportunities, our government will have to take a strong lead by establishing a clear, transparent and effective strategy to develop our infrastructure: ports, airports, roads, public transport or telecoms.
 
A plan estimated at more than 16 billion dollars, essential for a stronger GDP growth and to reposition Lebanon again on the international scene.
Let us not forget after all that miracles do not exist in economy!
 
Dearest friends,
With the economic and social burden of the one and a half million Syrian refugees on our soil, Brussels’ conference is an opportunity not to be missed. But will it be enough?
 
When I look at the 500,000 Palestinian refugees who have been on our soil for decades without any viable solution being found, I remain concerned about the future and about what might lie ahead.
 
Let’s face it: With an intolerable public debt and budget deficit…in a boiling region close to eruption… Lebanon, similar to a plane in the middle of a storm, simply cannot continue this way.
 
Lebanon alone is responsible for finding a solution to its misery, to the gangrene of corruption and to the financial and economic challenges it will be facing.
 
It will take us a long way to consolidate and diversify our economy... But this journey, we will take it together, and we will make it.
 
And now allow me to salute all of you, fellow Lebanese in France
Our beloved country needs you.
 
It should no longer maintain the status quo and live in this political and confessional division.
Let's unite around our nation.
This « national unity » is not a threat or a contradiction to our confessional diversity.
 
Vote at the next parliamentary elections.
 
Your voice is important.
 
Make sure it is heard by choosing the future you want.
 
You are our best ambassadors.
 
Lebanon is proud of you.
 
Never forget it.
 
Allow me, finally, to thank you and wish you the best, Messrs. Hariri, Le Maire, Foucher, Adwan and of course Gebran Bassil who knows very well how to gather Lebanese across the world in the name of a better Lebanon.
 
Long live Lebanon! Long live France!
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