President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, expressed Lebanon’s gratitude and appreciation for the support provided by Italy to it, since the 1980s, which is an embodiment of the distinguished relations existing between the two countries, expressing his hope that these relations will become stronger in the coming years, and that Italy will contribute, with the international community, in helping Lebanon confront the repercussions of the displaced Syrians, on its soil, in addition to the advancement of its economy and the removal of the effects of the Beirut Port explosion.
The words of the President came while receiving the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, who came to offer his condolences to the victims of the Beirut port explosion, and to monitor the relief operations, the removal of rubble and other humanitarian missions carried out by units of the Italian Army whose members came to Beirut specifically for this end.
At the outset of the meeting, President Aoun welcomed the Italian Prime Minister and thanked him for his visit, which shows Italy’s solidarity with Lebanon, thanking him for his personal participation in the Paris Conference in support of Beirut and the Lebanese, which was held on the 9th of August, and for sending urgent aid to Lebanon and launching the relief operation “Cedar Emergency”, through an air fleet of three aircraft that came specially to Rafic Hariri International Airport and 4 ships docked at Beirut Port. The volume of the Italian aid reached 20 tons of food and medical supplies, in addition to a rescue team of firefighters and military personnel specializing in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, in addition to establishing a military field hospital, donating ten fire trucks and equipment for 50 firefighters, in addition to aid worth 14.5 Million Euros and an additional aid of 9 Million Euros.
President Aoun also spoke about the economic and commercial cooperation that made Italy a key partner for Lebanon, as well as Italy’s participation in the “Cedar” Conference and its pledge of 120 Million Euros to Lebanon, in addition to the participation of the Italian company Eni with the French “Total” and the Russian “Novatek” in the gas exploration in Blocks 4 and 9.
The President then referred to the military cooperation between Lebanon and Italy, and Rome’s hosting of two conferences dedicated to supporting the Lebanese Army and armed forces, not to mention training courses and others. Then he dealt with the crises that have been straining Lebanon, especially the repercussions of the Syrian displacement since 2011, the difficult economic situation and the Corona virus, leading to the Beirut Port explosion. President Aoun pointed out that Lebanon’s continued bearing the burden of the displaced Syrians has become an impossible matter, therefore work must be done to find a solution to this file and stimulate thedisplaced to get back to their homes. President Aoun hoped that Italy would contribute with the International Community to the development of Lebanon because it wouldn’t be able to rise without the support of the International Community.
For his part, thanked the Italian Premier thanked the President for his reception, stressing that Italy stood by Lebanon in the difficult circumstances it is going through, asserting the importance of the historical Italian-Lebanese relations. PM Conte presented the Italian aid after the Beirut Port explosion, stressing the continuation of support for Lebanon in the issues it needs to recover from its current crisis, welcoming any request he submits in this context, especially in the field of rebuilding heritage that were destroyed or damaged by the explosion by sending experts specialized in heritage and archaeology.
The Italian Prime Minister finally hoped that Lebanon would succeed in overcoming the crisis it is going through, noting that he stopped upon President Aoun’s call to declare Lebanon as a civil state.
Word in the Log:
At the end of the meeting, Prime Minister Conte wrote the following word in the register of honor: “I am visiting Beirut today to express Italy’s full solidarity and historical friendship towards Lebanon and the Lebanese. Italy remains firmly with Lebanon and supports the efforts to rebuild Beirut in the wake of the painful explosion, last August, and launch a sustainable path full of prosperity”.
Statement of Prime Minister Conte:
“My visit to Beirut, today, is to confirm the historical friendship between Italy’s proximity to Lebanon and its people at this difficult time that it passes through especially after the Beirut Port explosion. I extend my deepest condolences from the Italian Government to Lebanon, Government and people, on the impact of this incident that occurred and shook, not only Lebanon but the entire international community.
There is an old tradition, which is the strong relations and ties between Italy and Lebanon, which are relations that have always been strengthened by the bonds of cooperation over the years between the two countries. In this context, I can say that these relations and this cooperation have been revived after the recent explosion. Italy was and will remain at the front lines, especially in the context of the response at this stage, that is the emergency phase, but not only in it, but in the next stage of reconstruction. We have intervened immediately, through the Italian civil defense and by sending health and medical assistance to Lebanon.
Italy immediately launched a humanitarian operation called “Cedar Emergency”. Within the framework of this operation, a military field hospital with very advanced capabilities was sent to Lebanon and includes an intensive care unit. Teams from the engineering regiment in the Italian Army were also sent to contribute to the process of rubble removal in the Port. It is time to look ahead despite the tragedies and pain, and the time has also come to build trust between the citizens themselves and also between them and the institutions. Likewise, it is time to write a new page in Lebanese history.
I know that this is a very big challenge, and the Lebanese authorities can adhere to a path of renewal of institutions and governance, and these are demands that the international community bodies and citizens have been demanding for a long time. Italy respects Lebanese sovereignty and will stay close to them and hopes that a new Government will be formed as soon as possible. It is possible in order to launch the reconstruction process and to have a reform program that responds to the rightful demands of citizens and the civil society. I have expressed this position to His Excellency the President and I will discuss these considerations with other Lebanese officials whom I will meet. Italy will contribute to supporting the stability of the social and economic growth of Lebanon.
Lebanon has the tight to have a peaceful and prosperous future, but it is also worth building this path so that Lebanon enjoys this prosperous future and pervades peace. Lebanon can rely on Italy and its role in the European Union and in the international community”.
The delegation accompanying Prime Minister Conte included: Italian Ambassador to Lebanon, Nicoletta Bombardiere, Political Advisor to PM Conte, Ambassador Pietro Benassi, the Military Advisor to PM Conte, Admiral Carlo Massagli, Consultants: Deborah Lepre, and Roberta de Lecce, and Translator, Madonna Hakim.
The Lebanese side included: Former Minister, Salim Jreisatti, Director General of the Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and Advisors: Brigadier General, Paul Matar, Mr. Rafic Chelala and Osama Khashab.
Source: National News Agency