President Michel Aoun Addresses the U.N. General Assembly !

Lebanese President Michel Aoun to the U.N: “Lebanon will not allow the naturalization of any Syrian or Palestinian refugee on its soil; no matter the cost.”

President Michel Aoun delivered on Thursday a speech at the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly. Aoun began by saluting and congratulating the new President of the United Nations General Assembly, Miroslav Lajcak, and the Secretary General of the United Nations. Mr. António Guterres, the nation’s leaders and the whole crowd.

Before addressing the Lebanese problems, President Aoun paid tribute to the victims of 9/11, who died as martyrs due to a terrorist act sixteen years ago; An act that triggered a war on terrorism worldwide; a war that unfortunately lost its aim and gave birth to the most hideous form of terrorism, which spread throughout the world, and especially in the regions of the Levant among them, Lebanon. President Aoun briefly told the assembly about the military operation that was successfully carried out by the Lebanese army against ISIL.

In addition, Aoun briefed the Assembly of the many difficulties and challenges that Lebanon had to face as a host country for a large number of displaced Syrians who left their country as a result of this war, led by the terrorist group known as Daesh (ISIL), and sought refuge on its lands.

President Aoun continued by saying that the Syrian state is now in control of “85 percent of its territory, emphasizing that “there is an urgent need to organize the return of refugees to their country.”
“The claim that refugees will not be safe if they return to their homeland is an unacceptable excuse,” President Aoun said, and stressed that “Lebanon will not permit any resettlement of refugees. Lebanon will not allow the naturalization of any Syrian or Palestinian refugee on its soil, no matter what that might cost. The decision in this regard belongs to us and not to anyone else,” Aoun underlined.

“Some call for the refugees’ voluntary return and we call for their safe return and differentiate between the two concepts,” President Aoun noted.
“The claim that they will not be safe should they return to their country is an unacceptable excuse. If the Syrian state is carrying out reconciliations with the armed groups that it is fighting, wouldn’t it be able to do so with refugees who had fled war?” the president asked.

Answering the American President, Donald Trump, President Aoun said: “The US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that refugees be resettled closer to home instead of brought to the United States has angered many in Lebanon, a tiny country hosting more than 1.5 million refugees. The country of just 4 million is officially hosting more than 1 million Syrian refugees and some 500,000 Palestinians. The real numbers are likely higher as many don’t register with the UN.”

On the same note, the Lebanese President turned to the Palestinian refugee community in Lebanon by saying, “no serious efforts are being deployed by the UN for a two-state solution in the Middle East. The UN better help the refugees return home instead of helping them to stay in encampments that lack the minimum requirements of decent life.”

On another note, Aoun referred to the International community’s failure in preventing Israel from establishing new settlements. He referred to the Israeli repeated violations of the Lebanese sovereignty, referring to recent incidents, including an Israeli strike on Syria launched from Lebanese airspace. “These violations are not new,” he added.

Finally, President Aoun nominated Lebanon to become a “permanent, UN-affiliated center for dialogue among the various cultures, religions and races.”
“I hope the member states will back Lebanon in this venture, so that we can all work for peace, security and stability.” President Michel Aoun concluded.

Hala Hayek Najjar