Official mission to Lebanon
Beirut/Brussels, 28 March 2017 – I was on an official mission to Lebanon from 22 to 26 March 2017 as a member of the Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue delegation of the representatives of the European People’s Party, headed by MEP György Hölvényi from Hungary. Other members of the delegation were MEPs Lorenzo Cesa from Italy, Lars Adaktusson from Sweden and Teresa Jimenes Becerril Barrio from Spain. The main goal of our mission was to pay a visit to the Cardinal Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch. During the visit, we agreed to organise a conference in the Patriarchate with religious and political representatives from the Middle East.
During the mission we met also with Michel Aoun, the President of the Republic of Lebanon, Nabih Berri, the Speaker of the Parliament and Pierre Bou Assi, the Minister of Social Affairs.
We used the opportunity to discuss various topical political and religious issues, the refugees’ crisis and the crisis in the neighbourhood with representatives of various Lebanese religious, institutional and political authorities and the civil society.
We visited a camp for Syrian refugees and learnt that more than one half of the total Lebanese population (4.5 million) were refugees, thereof 1.6 million from Syria.
Lebanon accepted the largest number of Syrian refugees in the last migrants’ wave, compared to the size of its population, being at the moment the country with the largest number of refugees per capita. This is a potential social threat and a huge challenge for peace and security in the country.
I believe that a country which accommodated such a huge number of refugees and which is actually the country of interreligious agreement, urgently needs a higher attention of the international community in resolving the refugees’ issue, so that the hardly won and maintained peace may be preserved.
The EPP Group shall through the Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue continue cooperation with representatives of different religions in the region and promote mutual understanding, tolerance and cooperation.