Intervention of H.E. the Ambassador of the Netherlands
Mr. Jan Piet Kleiweg de Zwaan
Donors' Meeting for South Lebanon Beirut, July 27th 2000
Mr. Prime Minister. Other members of the Government. Your Excellencies. Distinguished Delegates
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Lebanese government for having organised this conference shortly after the Israeli withdrawal from the South. This demonstrates that the Lebanese government is taking the humanitarian and economic problems of South Lebanon seriously.
The Netherlands fully concurs with the previous statements of the Presidency of the European Union, presently France, and the Representative of the European Commision of the European Union of which my country is a founding member. The bulk of the Netherlands participation in the cooperation with Lebanon passes through the cooperation programme of the European Union, which is financed by my country with the other members of the European Union.
Lebanon and the Netherlands have a number of characteristics in common. We are both seafaring nations and traders. To be successful in trade- in which both our nations are- a practical approach is required. Pragmatism and practicality are also the key words when we talk about the rehabilitation and reconstruction of South Lebanon. Pragmatism requires the presence of the local implementation capacity in South Lebanon to be able to absorb the programmes which are supported by donors and to carry out the rehabilitation programmes to the benefit of the people. If the local absorption capacity is lacking the assistance remains idle. I was encouraged by the remarks of His Excellency Minister Saidi this morning that this is fully recognised by the Lebanese Government.
It is therefore important that measures are taken to enhance this local absorption capacity. This is vital for a rapid and efficient implementation of the programmes which are supported by donors. In order to strengthen this absorption capacity it is important that the government restores its authority in the area both in the civil as well as in the military sense. A rapid return of effective authority in South Lebanon will also contribute to an equal distribution of the assistance to all communities.
I was struck by the words of the mufti in Marjayoun during our yesterday's visit to the South. He said that restoration of authority and security are key issues in the South. He also said that he was not only responsible for the Moslims but also for the Christians. These are wise words and positive signals which show that we are moving in the right direction. Let us continue to build on it.