Click here to view the speech in Arabic 

Former Prime Minister Rafic Haririís Speech at the American University of Beirut

President of the American University of Beirut,

Honorable Professors,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Lebanon is characterized by its capabilities that show in all circumstances. It is also characterized by freedom and democracy where all people can express their views frankly, freely and without any fear.

That is how things are supposed to be. If there were no students protesting about something and students who supported the same thing, this would no longer be the American University of Beirut and Lebanon would cease to be Lebanon.

What we fear is a Lebanon with only one view that believes it is the right one with the only right understanding of things.

No human being has a monopoly on the whole truth; the truth belongs to all people and is seen by each individual from his or her perspective. It is important that we handle things in a civilized, ethical and decent way. It is equally important that we listen to one another and engage in a dialogue. Lebanon is passing through a sensitive stage of its history on all levels. In some cases we are in a state of limbo. Some people do not want a dialogue and do not want to listen. They want to listen to their own views only and believe that their views are right and any other views are wrong. Other people are ready for dialogue and discussion. They want to take the initiative and to give advice and listen to advice.

I believe that Lebanon is a country of dialogue and democracy. We have to adhere to this against all odds and despite all pressures. I say this while our country passes through a stage that will determine the countryís direction for a long time to come. The country will either be subjected to a single view, a single thought, and the truth of some influential people, or it will continue its process toward intellectual pluralism and true democracy and freedom that cannot be downsized, excluded or controlled by anybody.

I fully believe that the Lebanese love freedom, breathe democracy and respect the law and true Lebanese traditions which, despite all historical calamities, are still appreciated by us all.

 Today we celebrate the launching of a new business administration faculty. Why today? Why this faculty? And why did we contribute to the project?

 We believe that this university plays a key role in encouraging Lebanonís role in the region.

 What is Lebanonís role in the region?

Some people say that Lebanonís old role is over but do not take the trouble to describe Lebanonís new role. We believe that countriesí roles do not end. They change and take new shapes according to circumstances and stages. Officials are supposed to help in identifying the role of the country.

We believe that Lebanon is the beacon of freedom and democracy in the Arab East and that it should retain this role despite the defects infesting our freedom and democracy. We have to remove these defects instead of convincing ourselves that there is no freedom or democracy. We have to decry all the time any act that violates democracy and freedom. We have to establish a belief in freedom and democracy in our country.

Lebanonís role is to disseminate culture. Lebanon has a pivotal role in the Arab culture. It has a key role in education, as well as acting as a financial, economic and commercial hub in the region.

Lebanon was the hospital of the East and must regain this role. It was the chief tourist center among the regionís countries and must regain this role.

How can we translate these slogans into reality? We have to carry out projects on a large, medium and small scale that will all help Lebanon boost its role in the region. It is not enough to raise slogans, we have to put them into practice and not act against them. Our slogans and actions must be in harmony.

This faculty and this university contribute to Lebanonís role as a financial, economic and commercial hub in the Middle East. We have to establish this role and develop it by developing the American University of Beirut and all universities and institutes, especially the Lebanese University. This university in particular carries a heavy burden because of the law, the large number of students and the low fees it collects. That is why it is imperative to develop the universityís curricula and educational capabilities. This will insure that the universityís level will become more advanced and the university will provide services to more Lebanese.

Developing curricula and providing university education to more students are the basic requirements for developing Lebanon, enhancing its openness to other civilizations, and allowing it to become a cultural, financial, economic and commercial center in the region.

As you all know, we are facing a major crisis that we all want to see resolved in the coming years. But this cannot be done without deliberate work and a clear vision of what we are supposed to do. We have to shoulder our responsibilities and meet the challenges.

Turning a deaf ear to our countryís problems will not solve these problems. Provoking unrest will not solve these problems. Creating an unstable situation in the country will not solve these problems.

To solve these problems, we have to identify them and put forward clear solutions.

I hope we will meet up again, God willing, and depending on the enthusiasm of those responsible for this project I hope that we can inaugurate this key educational center in a few years. I am sure it will be inaugurated and we will see students studying in it.

Thank you.