Jobs for the future Lebanon deserves
After an eventful year as British Ambassador to Lebanon, this week I will leave your uniquely beautiful country to return to my own. I’m sad to go. I really enjoyed my Lebanese experience. Exploring the beautiful landscapes, delving into your archaeological history, tasting your delicious food and above all meeting many of you during my travels from north to south, to the mountains and the Bekaa. Thank you for welcoming me with open arms and sharing your culture, your advice and your wisdom with me.
Lebanon may be small, but in several ways it is perfectly formed. Lebanon possesses many of the ingredients necessary for success, notably a foundation anchored by its rich and deep history, complemented by modern vigor, entrepreneurship and undeniable human potential.
Nevertheless, the pearl of the eastern Mediterranean is not realizing its potential. Many of you are suffering because of the inability of the Lebanese rulers to serve your interests – the interests of the Lebanese people.
If the ingredients are there, the recipe for a bright future is also clear and accessible. It is clear that Lebanon’s battered economy is in desperate need of a bailout from the IMF.
In my meetings with politicians and bankers, most seem unwilling to agree that Lebanon should do whatever is asked of it to receive an international aid package. There can be no more exceptionalism of Lebanon. Lebanon needs to pass the necessary laws, open the books without preconditions and reboot the banking sector. The alternative is that more and more of you are forced to take increasingly desperate measures to survive.
Reform now is the key to solving Lebanon’s economic problems. Now is not the time for politics. It has never been more important for your managers to make the necessary decisions, no matter how difficult they may be. They owe it to you to provide better governance, transparency and accountability. They must show compassion and commitment to improving the lives of their countrymen. Public interest should prevail over personal interest.
Britain’s priorities remain clear. The British government is committed to maintaining stability and security in Lebanon. We have deepened and expanded our partnership with the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces. Our support to the education sector has helped build a better future for Lebanon’s youth, who will become the next generation of Lebanese leaders. We will continue to provide humanitarian support to the most vulnerable, defend their rights and protect those at risk of prejudice and persecution.
Lebanon matters. In 2019, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II declared that Lebanon is “a symbol of diversity, tolerance and resilience”. She wished that the bonds of friendship between our countries would continue for many years. In leaving the post of British ambassador, I share her ambitions. I am proud that we, the United Kingdom, continue to fulfill our role as your steadfast friend – a friend of the Lebanese people.