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Visit to Lebanon

Publié le November 9, 2010
Press conference given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (excerpts)
Beirut, November 6, 2010

THE MINISTER – (…) I’ve come to convey the message that France is standing by the Lebanese people and Lebanese law. I came to listen to all the Lebanese represented in the parties. I’ve heard what everyone has to say. I’ve spent hours with them. And I’m very impressed by what I’ve heard. Over and above the rumours and concerns, my interlocutors have given me clearly focused, well-founded analyses and, at the end of the day, all these details, all these analyses, are proof of the existence and strength of a country, Lebanon.

After Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassination, the international community – in the first place the Lebanese – decided on the creation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). This is international justice. In my view, in my experience, we got it under the same conditions in the Balkans, in Africa, at times with political difficulties and misunderstandings. In the Balkans, it was at the heart of Europe, ladies and gentlemen. And we accepted that justice system. The fact that the French – who weren’t directly involved – accepted it, and British and Spanish accepted it, that everyone accepted it isn’t surprising. What’s difficult, at the moment, is for people to accept it for themselves in their own country. Yet everyone wanted to know what actually happened and the truth about Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassination.


Q. – Hezbollah wants to boycott the STL, which it accuses of being politicized. What’s your answer to that?

THE MINISTER – It’s a very bad question. You expect me to answer that? The International Tribunal represents the United Nations and international justice, the latter is a pretty new development. And I can guarantee you, through the experience gained in other circumstances – I’ve said this in Africa, Kosovo and Bosnia –, impartiality, to the extent that any – national or international – tribunal can be impartial.

Yes, I think it’s a bad question, because there’s no bias here. Once again, we haven’t yet seen either the results or the bill of indictment. No one can accuse us for the moment, neither you nor me, of knowing anything specific. Let’s wait. I don’t know when this bill of indictment will be made public, but I believe that we have to wait for it sensibly and very calmly. And then we’ll see. We’ll see; nothing’s been done. Why this concern? Are you against seeking those who assassinated the Prime Minister? No one was against that, why would you be now? I don’t know what’s in this bill of indictment, let’s wait.


Q. – There’s talk of demonstrations and popular protests organized for 8 March after the bill of indictment has been made public. Are you worried?

THE MINISTER – I don’t want to be. I can hear the protests, I can hear the warnings. I don’t understand why the Tribunal would point the finger at one community more than another in a bill of indictment we haven’t yet seen. Before protesting against alleged evidence, it must first be alleged. People must know what it is, let’s wait to find out what it is. I don’t know anything, but I can say that I have very often had this experience and, eventually, you notice that in the worst circumstances when justice is done, it’s good for everyone and especially for society which needs it. It would negate the Lebanese State if it were to destroy itself even before knowing what the bill of indictment says. And I’ve got confidence in the Lebanese State.


Q. – Why not resume the work started at La Celle Saint-Cloud?

THE MINISTER – The situation isn’t the same. Three years ago, we didn’t have a government and hadn’t had elections – as I’ve told you – nor did we have a president. There was a prime minister, Fouad Siniora, of course. They were building on something which no longer existed since the ministers were no longer meeting. Now, it’s completely different. There have been elections allowing the Lebanese Republic to appoint a president and prime minister and ministers who met last week and will go on doing so. I don’t want to get involved in political balances, that’s why I’m saying quite simply that no community or particular region of the country is being targeted. I’m sure of that.

Listening to some people, we get the impression that the international community is coming to violate a sovereignty. It’s the opposite. That sovereignty was expressed before the Tribunal was set up, wasn’t it?

And then there was an international investigation and then the Security Council vote which created the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Now it’s a matter for the Tribunal, and I assure you that we have absolutely no way of influencing it. (…)./.

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