Following the collapse of the empire after World War I, the five provinces that constitute modern Lebanon were under the French Mandate of Lebanon. The French expanded the borders of the Mount Lebanon Governorate, which was mostly populated by Maronites and Druze, to include more Muslims. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, establishing a unique political system – confessionalism – a Consociationalism type of power sharing mechanism based on religious communities.
To commemorate Lebanon 75th Independence anniversary, the Embassy of Lebanon hosted its diplomatic reception under the auspices of H.E. Antoine Azzam in a downtown hotel Seoul on Nov. 22th evening, utilizing its opportunity to show its diversity, its relations with its neighbouring countries and last but not least to explain ever-growing relations & friendship with the Republic of Korea.
According to the Embassy of Lebanon, Bechara El Khoury, first Lebanese president, Riad El-Solh, first Lebanese prime minister and Emir Majid Arslan II, first Lebanese minister of defence, are considered the founders of the modern Republic of Lebanon and are national heroes for having led the country's independence.
Foreign troops withdrew completely from Lebanon on 31 December 1946. Lebanon is a member of the Organisation internationale de la francophonie since 1973. Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country experienced a period of relative calm and renowned prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, commerce, and banking.
Because of its financial power and diversity in its heyday, Lebanon was referred to as the "Switzerland of the East" during the 1960s., and its capital Beirut attracted so many tourists that it was known as "the Paris of the Middle East". At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure.
What was most noteworthy & impressive during Lebanon Amb. Antoine Azzam’s speech to mark Lebabon 75th Independence Anniversary, was his patriotism about Lebanon.
At the end of Sep. this year, Amb. Antoine Azzam received the 2018 Proud Amb. Award from the Korea Ambassador Culture Friendship Association, an affiliate organization of the NDNnews(www.ndnnews.co.kr) & the Seoulcity magazine in recognition of his excellent diplomatic activities, dedication & efforts such as supplementing the absence of Lebanon top envoy in Korea during last 4 years successfully well
So after a four-year vacancy in this post, many Koreans expect Your Excellency’s excellent role &outstanding diplomatic performances as Lebanon top envoy to the Republic of Korea to represent Lebanon in Korea, hearing Your Excellency’s comments: “When I was appointed to the Republic of Korea last January, I was thrilled, excited and soon realized the challenges I would face: Economically, due to Lebanese partnerships with Korean companies we must double the efforts to bring Lebanon to Korea, through imports of Lebanese wines, quality canned foods and olive oil, the Screening Committee said.
By his speech during the Lebanon 75th Independence fete, first off, Azzam expressed big concern, pointing out that with refugees comprising one-third of Lebanon’s population of more than 6 million, their presence has placed a large burden on the country’s resources. Touching upon ever-growing relations & friendship with Korea, Lebanon Amb. mentioned the Dongmyeong Unit which is still present in southern Lebanon and conducting stabilization activities there. Azzam also thanked the Korean government for rebuilding Lebanon’s infrastructure, contributing to security projects and rural and municipal development programs there as well as providing scholarships for Lebanese students.
Concerning Lebanon government's efforts to prevent terrorism & its foreign policy, Lebanon envoy said: "We celebrate our independence day in a context dominated by major Arab developments. Our country and the region are undergoing major transformations in addition to the persistence of the phenomenon of terrorism. In this context we wish to laud the contribution of the Lebanese armed forces in countering terrorism and reiterate that there is no place for terrorism and extremism in Lebanon and call the international community to support the Lebanese armed forces in their efforts. In fact the President of the Republic of Lebanon H.E. General Michel Aoun declared in his investiture speech that Lebanon has always been committed to respect the chart of the league of the Arab States and the international resolutions. Lebanon therefore adopts an independent foreign policy in compliance with the United Nations resolutions and international law."
As we celebrate this dear national occasion and on behalf of the government and the people of Lebanon, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude and deep appreciation to the Republic of Korea for assisting Lebanon and contributing in its recovery. The Korean government contributed in rebuilding infrastructure and in security projects as well as student scholarships, rural and municipal development programs nationwide and the most precious gift offered to Lebanon is the participation of the brave Children of Korea (Dongmyeong unit) in the peacekeeping force within the UNIFIL since 2007, added Azzam.
For reference & our readers’ understanding about Lebanon, NDNnews (www.ndnnew.co.kr) inserts Lebanon Amb. Antoine Azzam’s contribution article which was inserted into the Nov. issue of the Seoulcity magazine. -Ed.
Country Report: 75th anniversary of Lebanon’s independence
“A great melting pot of cultural and social interaction among diverse groups: Lebanon”
By Antoine Azzam, Lebanon Amb. to the Republic of Korea
The Lebanese poet Gibran k. Gibran was not wrong when he described Lebanon as a “place of beauty and dreams of enchanting valleys and splendid mountains”. After all, Lebanon offers a diverse landscape from the fertile Bekaa Valley, to the lengthy Mediterranean coastline and the snowcapped peaks of Mount Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges.
This geographical diversity, and its location at the crossroads of Asia, Europe, and Africa were decisive factors in shaping its history. Merchants used its port cities to transport their products form the East to the Western markets resulting in the development of many of its cities. This has allowed Lebanon to grow its economy and made it a great melting pot of cultural and social interaction among diverse groups.
Throughout its long history, many ancient and modern civilizations passed by, and every single one of them left its imprint upon Lebanon. These diverse influences are obvious in the richness of the country’s archaeological sites. The Phoenicians, the Romans, the Persians, the Crusaders, the Ottomans and the French were among the civilizations that invaded Lebanon and touched its crossroads.
They used its cities and seaports and left a diverse range of ruins and temples. From the Baalbek temple complex, to the Christian hermitages and churches and the Mamluk mosques, the country is a true cultural mosaic that represents a mix of different cultures and traditions. The city of Byblos, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, is another window to the ancient world since it dates back to as early as the Stone Age (5,000 BC); not to mention that it is the origin of our contemporary alphabet that was originally created and diffused by the Phoenicians.
Another aspect of the cultural diversity in Lebanon is the religion. Lebanon has been at the heart of the growth of two of the world’s major religions, Christianity and Islam. Both religious groups exist in relative harmony. Lebanon’s Christian heritage can be traced back to the Old Testament where Lebanon was mentioned more than 70 times and where the cedar of Lebanon was considered as a symbol of beauty and strength.
Qadisha valley, a UNESCO World Heritage–listed site, is another example of Christians’ early presence in the area. This valley comes out with a wealth of hidden rock-cut monasteries and sacred sites that date back to the earliest days of Christianity. Cana is also a significant Christian village in Lebanon since it was the site of Jesus’s first miracle, when he turned the water into wine. On the other hand, Lebanon’s Muslim heritage emerged in the 7th century AD during the Umayyad dynasty. As a result, the country became rich of Islamic art, architecture and spiritual places that have been influenced by the Sunni, Shiite and Druze’s beliefs.
Lebanon gained independence in 1943. Consequently, it started to play a vital role in regional politics, security and commerce. In fact, all the occupations and the invasions that Lebanon has witnessed throughout its history, have created the rich heritage and the multicultural legacy that Lebanon is characterized by today, giving the world an ancient history encyclopedia.
Likewise, these invasions indicate the strategic importance of Lebanon’s geographical location that has always made him the focus of attention of many populations throughout the history. The Phoenicians particularly, took advantage of its location and engaged in trade with other populations. They produced the coins and created the alphabet in order to facilitate the trade.
Over the years, the number of the Lebanese businessmen who followed the footsteps of the Phoenicians and traveled across the continents to engage in commercial activities, has gradually increased to the extent that the Lebanese diaspora is estimated to be around 14 million people spread around the world. In addition, the Lebanese banking sector, globally known for its secrecy law, has always been the cornerstone of the country’s economy and influence in the commerce-related activities in the region and in the world.