The second day of the energy congress of the Lebanese diaspora in the Ivory Coast, Saturday focused on investment and economic opportunities for those living outside Lebanon, and the importance of preserving national identity, said a statement by the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, whose ministry organized the congress, returned to Beirut around 4 pm this Saturday. Bassil did not personally attend the congress that took place in Abidjan as planned, but chose to address attendees on Friday through a video recording.
The seminars ended on Saturday night. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the two seminars on the second day of the event had focused on the concept of “Libaninity”, a word used by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to describe the Lebanese identity.
“The seminar highlighted the importance of this concept and the need to preserve the Lebanese identity and the Arabic language,” the ministry said earlier. Economic opportunities for Lebanese in central and southern Africa were also discussed.
A subsequent statement said that the meeting referred to the recovery of the Lebanese nationality for a large number of Lebanese expatriates around the world, one of the main characteristics of Bassil’s tenure in the ministry. The seminars discussed culture, history and Lebanese gastronomy.
The EDL congress is a regular convention that aims to unite Lebanese around the world. This edition, however, was overshadowed by the tensions in Lebanon caused by a dispute between Bassil and President Nabih Berri.
A video leaked on Sunday night and showed Bassil saying that President Nabih Berri – who enjoys wide support among the Lebanese people of Côte d’Ivoire – is a “bandit”, prompting street protests and calling supporters of Berri to boycott the congress.
According to reports, Berri himself asked his supporters not to attend, although his close political adviser, Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, denied the reports.
This episode culminated a month-long dispute between President Michel Aoun, Bassil’s father-in-law, and Berri, who had led some in the diaspora to ask for the congress to be postponed.
Bassil, however, insisted that he continue. He did not show up for the congress on Friday, as planned, but instead addressed the attendees via video from an undisclosed location.