A Set Of Reports Addressing The Maronite Consultative Meeting


Bkirki Consultative Meeting attendees pledge adherence to national unity, reject alteration of Lebanon’s identity
Wed 16 Jan 2019/NNA

The Bkirki Patriarchate released the final statement issued in the wake consultative meeting hosted by Rahi this Wednesday and which brought together Maronite politicians and lawmakers.
The statement reads as follows:
“Upon the invitation of His Eminence, Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi, and at this critical national moment, and based on the firm conviction of Maronites that Lebanon is not theirs, rather they are for Lebanon, the Bkirki patriarchate hosted on Wednesday January 16, 2019, a meeting for Maronite Heads of parliamentary blocs and MPs to discuss the political, economic and social conditions prevailing over Lebanon, and what must be done to ward off risks and reassure the Lebanese.
This meeting has a national dimension. The patriarchal edifice was the first factor in the establishment of Lebanon, and is the one keen on it.
After in-depth discussions, conferees emphasized the following points:
First: Adopting the content of the opening speech of His Eminence.
Second: Lebanon, the society and the State, emanated from the civilizational and humane encounter between its Christian and Muslim sons, since these two religions converged on its land. Lebanon’s historical identity, which reflects its deep spiritual being, is what impacted its constitution. No one can create a new identity for Lebanon.
Third: Clinging to national unity, the national charter and conviviality with their partners in the homeland and adhering to good management of pluralism on the basis of a fair and balanced national partnership, as well as to respecting the constitution and the sovereignty of the State while rejecting anything that would harm the balance of constitutional institutions and their respective powers, on top of which the Presidency of the Republic. Respecting the powers entrusted to State officials and equal cooperation between the three authorities protects the Constitution and serves the interests of the homeland and the people and strengthens the immunity and prestige of the State.
Fourth: Upholding the independence of the national decision and Lebanon’s supreme interest in shaping its foreign relations and the commitment of its affiliation to Arab and international systems so as not to distort the identity of Lebanon and bring to isolation from its Arab and international environment.
Fifth: Applying the constitution in both letter and spirit, and (…) regarding the Constitutional institutions as the only framework for discussing and resolving political crises and rejecting all methods that threaten to overthrow the State or rob it of its decision.
Sixth: Promoting the presence of Christians in Lebanon and their active role in it, and preserving the land and freedom as stipulations for the continuation of “Lebanon’s message” as a model of pluralism, diversity, freedom and democracy.
Seventh: Calling for a speedy formation of a government according to the constitution (…); a government to give incentive for the international community to support Lebanon. Cooperating with the President of the Republic and the PM-designate to immunize Lebanon against political, economic and social crises.
Eighth: Condemning Israel’s repeated violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty and confronting its threat with greater national solidarity under the state’s roof. Demanding the implementation of international resolutions and rejecting any attempt to settle Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and asserting their right to return.
Ninth: Supporting the Lebanese Army and the security forces to carry out their duty to defend Lebanon and preserve its security and sovereignty.
Tenth: Doing everything possible to ensure the return of displaced Syrians to their homeland as soon as possible and asserting their right to safe return to their land, as displacement has become a serious existential challenge which puts the identity of Lebanon and its entity at great risk.
Eleventh: Dealing responsibly with the economic and financial affairs to confront threats to the social security of citizens. Actively working to control the management of public finances and stop the waste, and fighting corruption so as to reduce the budget deficit…
Twelfth: Encouraging Christian youth and helping them engage in state institutions and civil, military and security public administrations.
Thirteen: Participants affirmed their commitment to the Maronite conscience and its historical national principles, especially in terms of the relations that unite them on the rules of peace, forgiveness and cooperation despite the multiplicity of political options. They pledged to face the above-mentioned challenges and to organize and coordinate frameworks and mechanisms to confront them through the formation of a follow-up committee comprising representatives of the parliamentary blocs participating in the meeting.
The ad-hoc committee shall commence its work immediately and further discuss the raised points by holding extensive meetings. The committee is composed of MPs Ibrahim Kanaan, George Adwan, Sami Gemayel, Estfan Douaihi, Michel Mouawad, Farid Heikal Al-Khazen and Hadi Hobeish.
Finally, the participants renewed their commitment to the “charter of political action in Light of the Church’s teachings and the specificity of Lebanon” issued by the Maronite Patriarchate.”

Maronite Patriarch Hosts Consultative Gathering in Bkirki
Kataeb.org/Wednesday 16th January 2019/
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi on Wednesday hosted a meeting that gathered Maronite politicians to discuss the community’s role in facing the current conditions as well as the general situation in the country. The closing statement issued following the meeting stressed that Lebanon has long been established on coexistence between Muslims and Christians, affirming that this constitutes Lebanon’s identity which no one has the right to alter or replace.“Participants stressed their attachment to coexistence in the nation, outlined the importance of managing well pluralism based on fair partnership, affirmed their adherence to the Constitution, state sovereignty and voiced their rejection of everything that harms the state institutions and undermines prerogatives, notably those help by the presidency post,” the statement noted. “Respecting the powers entrusted to state officials and ensuring equal cooperation between the top three authorities would protect the Constitution, serve the country and the people’s best interest, and strengthen the state’s immunity and prestige,” it added. Participants also stressed the need to preserve the country’s independence in order to serve Lebanon’s best interest when it comes to shaping its foreign ties and abiding by the requirements of its membership of both Arab and international communities, adding that it’s crucial to safeguard free decision-making so that Lebanon’s identity does not get tarnished and does not get it isolated from its Arab and global environments.
Participants also called for resorting to the Constitution whenever divergences emerge, rejecting all threatening methods aimed at overthrowing the state and seizing its decision-making power.
Moreover, Maronite politicians called for speeding up the formation of a productive government in collaboration between President Michel Aoun and PM-designate Saad Hariri who are the only two in charge of this process, as stipulated by the Constitution. The closing statement also stressed the need to deal responsibly with the economic and financial challenges facing the country, saying that it is time to launch effective joint endeavors to manage public finances, stop squandering, eradicate corruption and reduce the budget deficit. Participants expressed unwavering support to the Lebanese army and security forces in defending Lebanon and safeguarding its security, stressing the need to encourage Christian youth to join the state institutions. Participants condemned the continuous Israeli violations, demanded full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions implementations and expressed utter rejection of any attempts to naturalize Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. “The participants also expressed the need to do whatever is needed to secure Syrian refugees’ return to their homeland as soon as possible, and to protect their right for a safe return because their influx has turned into a serious existential challenge to Lebanon’s identity and entity and, therefore, a solution has become an urgency,” the statement added.
The committee tasked with drafting the closing statement of the Bkirki meeting consisted of the following MPs: Samy Gemayel, Ibrahim Kanaan, George Adwan, Estephan Doueihy, Farid Al-Khazen, Michel Mouawad and Hadi Hobeish. At the beginning of the meeting, Al-Rahi said that the gathering was being held for the sake of Lebanon and all the Lebanese, stressing that it is not aimed at excluding anyone. “All we want is that you involve your colleagues in the government and the Parliament in all that we discuss today and that you would all work for the same aim, that is to protect Lebanon from looming dangers that necessitated this meeting,” Al-Rahi stated. “I saw that it is my duty to call you for a consultative meeting to discuss the unification of viewpoints on how to get out of this dangerous situation,” he added.
“Lebanon’s unity is at stake, so it is our duty together to come up with a solution.”
None of you is out of the loop when it comes to the dangerous economic and financial situation that the country is experiencing, the presence of 1.5 million refugees and the critical social conditions,” Al-Rahi noted. “The people has started to express its suffering through protests as it is losing trust in the government and its leaders, especially the youth who are not finding jobs and are forced to leave their country and that is a grave and irreparable loss.” The patriarch blamed the current political crisis on the failure to implement the Taef agreement and the Constitution, as well as on attempts to introduce new norms and practices that go against the essence of those two texts. “This has raised concerns over potential changes in the political system and the country’s identity, as well as over bids to force a constituent assembly and to establish a new tripartite power-sharing model between Sunnis, Shiites and Christians .
“We want a unified national awakening through which we would work, along with all the other social components, on protecting the republic,” he stressed. Maronite lawmakers and ministers were convoked to the “consultative” meeting to confer over the deteriorating situation on the political, economic and social levels, and to deliberate over the initiatives that must be put forth to preserve the State of Lebanon which the Maronites contributed to its establishment and made tremendous sacrifices for its survival.
Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel, Marada leader Sleiman Frangieh and Free Patriotic Movement chief Gebran Bassil were among those who attended the meeting. Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, as well as MPs Sethrida Geagea and Jean Obeid failed to show up.

Bkirki Summit Backs Presidency, Says No One Has Right to Change Lebanon Identity
Naharnet/January 16/19
Maronite leaders and lawmakers gathered in Bkirki stressed Wednesday that “no one has the right to create a new identity for Lebanon,” as they threw their support behind the presidency. The summit was held following an invitation from Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi. In the closing statement, the conferees rejected “anything that harms the balance of constitutional institutions and the powers of each of them, topped by the Presidency.”“The meeting has a national aspect,” the statement said. “Lebanon should not be isolated from its Arab region and international partners,” it added. Turning to the stalled cabinet formation process, the conferees called for “speeding up the formation of the government according to the Constitution” and for “cooperation with the President and the PM-designate.”“We condemn the Israeli violations and reject any attempt to naturalize Palestinian refugees in Lebanon,” they added, while emphasizing that Syrian refugees should “safely return” to their country. The conferees also pledged to confront the “alarming challenges” through forming a follow-up committee. The meeting had kicked off with an opening speech by al-Rahi. Media reports said Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil called during the meeting for “strengthening the presidential post and the president’s camp.”
Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh hit back, saying he backs strengthening the presidency but rejects that the president and the Free Patriotic Movement be granted a one-third veto power in Cabinet. “You want 11 ministers to defend your own interests and not those of Christians,” Franjieh was quoted as saying. MP Ziad Aswad of the FPM lashed out at Franjieh at this point. “Why don’t we have the right to create new norms, like others are doing, which would give influence for the president, seeing as the others are not giving us our rights,” Aswad said. According to media reports, most of the interventions tackled the importance of the presidential post and the participants emphasized that “preserving the state requires adherence to the constitution and the Taef Accord.” Before the meeting began, caretaker Social Affairs Minister Pierre Bou Assi told an MTV reporter that the meeting was an opportunity to discuss the “unsound” situation in the country in light of a “serious political crisis.”“We came to Bkirki today with the aim of reviving the constitutional and political institutions. Adhering to the constitution and the state’s institutions in practice are the only means to achieve that,” added Bou Assi. The meeting brought 33 officials, out of 36 invited, together. It was held in the absence of Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea and MP Sethrida Geagea, who are outside the country, and MP Jean Obeid who cited “personal” reasons.

Rahi at ‘Maronite Summit’: National Unity in Jeopardy, National Awareness is Required
Naharnet/January 16/19
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi sounded the alarm on Wednesday during a “consultative” gathering in Bkirki, that brought the main Christian party leaders and deputies together, on the Lebanese unity and highlighted the need for a “national unified awakening” in order to protect the republic. In opening remarks he made at the beginning of the meeting he said it aims to take into consideration the interests of Lebanon and the Lebanese. “This edifice is home to all the Lebanese. Our meeting today is for Lebanon and all the Lebanese, and we have no intention to dwell on affairs that only concern us,” Rahi said. “Nobody ignores the criticality of the financial, economic, social and livelihood conditions and the seriousness of the presence of more than one million displaced Syrians in Lebanon,” he continued. “One of the reasons behind the current political crisis is the failure to implement Taef Agreement and the Constitution,” he explained, stressing that non compliant practices and norms have been as well introduced. “People are expressing their pain in demonstrations and they have started to lose trust in the state and its rulers,” he indicated. “I have reckoned that it is my duty to invite you to this meeting to discuss the unification of opinion on how to exit the danger,” he said. “The Lebanese unity is in jeopardy today and we seek a national unified awakening to build upon and to protect the republic,” he underlined. Maronite lawmakers and leaders of the main Christian parties met in Bkirki to participate in the consultative meeting called by Rahi. Caretaker Social Affairs Minister Pierre Bou Assi told MTV reporter that the meeting is an opportunity to discuss the “unsound” situation in the country in light of a “serious political crisis.” “We came to Bkirki today with the aim of reviving the constitutional and political institutions. Adhering to the constitution and the state’s institutions in practice are the only means to achieve that,” added Bou Assi. The meeting brought 33 officials, out of 36 invited, together. It was held in the absence of Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, MP Sethrida Geagea, for travel reasons, and MP Jean Obaid who cited “personal” reasons.

Al-Khalil from Bkirki: We must all apply Constitution, Taif agreement
Wed 16 Jan 2019/NNA – Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Rahi received this evening member of the Development and Liberation bloc, MP Anwar Al-Khalil, who said after the meeting: “The Speaker of the House of Representatives Nabih Berri has relayed his appreciation to his Eminence the Patriarch for this comprehensive national position that takes into consideration what Lebanon is going through and the positive words he heard at the opening of the Bkirki consultative meeting today.””The Lebanese are meeting on the basis of these words, agreeing on joint ideas and on the need to fulfill our national duties and respect national constants that are of primary concern to us all so that the nation can persist. As his Eminence said, we must all read in our Constitution and in the Taif Agreement, and not in different books and constitutions,” Al-Khalil said.

Berri Hails al-Rahi’s ‘Comprehensive National Stance’
Naharnet/January 16/19/Dispatched by Speaker Nabih Berri, MP Anwar al-Khalil of the Development and Liberation bloc held talks Wednesday with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, a few hours after a landmark Maronite summit in Bkirki. “Speaker Nabih Berri asked me to relay his appreciation to His Eminence Patriarch al-Rah for this comprehensive and complete national stance that pays attention to the critical situation that Lebanon is going through, and for those good words that he heard during the opening of Bkirki’s meeting today,” al-Khalil said after meeting al-Rahi in Bkirki. “I expressed to His Eminence our appreciation of what he is doing… And as His Eminence said, we should all read in our constitution and in the Taef Accord and not in other books and constitutions,” the envoy added.