Foreword by the President of the Republic of Lebanon,
General Emile Lahoud
After a score and two years of destruction, dislocation and massive displacement, the Israeli Occupation of Southern Lebanon and the Western Bekaa, has come to an end under duress, thanks to the sacrifices of the Lebanese People. However, the impact and debris of this occupation, has been so pervasive that it adversely affected each home, village and institution and left them in utter dysfunction. Henceforth, they are left incapable of even delivering the most basic of functions and services.
As a result of the Israeli occupation, that Region of Lebanon saw an abrupt suspension in the "cycle of life." The harsh realities of that occupation taught the Lebanese to "reshape" their vision of the future but to never surrender hope. The world adapted to the realities of the e-age at an unprecedented speed, while the Lebanese, exclusively those in the occupied territories, clinched to that hope. The Lebanese State, with all its institutions, was not afforded more than a minimal presence, because of the harsh conditions set by the Israeli occupier. Living in the occupied, downtrodden region of South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa was hence restrictive. While only those of advanced age and the handicapped were constrained to stay, the more able and youthful chose to leave en masse, seeking a more dignified living, in neighboring cities.
As we await the "Liberation" process to be duly completed, and the removal of Israeli border violations verified, our attention turns to the rehabilitation of the liberated Region, fulfilling as such, the responsibilities of the Lebanese State and the International Community. This is yet another colossal undertaking befalling a nation that has embarked on a major reconstruction campaign and in the absence of a comprehensive and just settlement to the regional dispute. Addressing this issue remains an International responsibility in view of Israel's refusal to initially implement UN Security Council Resolution 425,and repeatedly ignoring Resolution 242, 338 and 194.
It is therefore wise to reiterate that development and stability are interdependent, and the prerequisites to both, is a concerted effort between the Lebanese State and the International Community .
The "Conference of Donor Countries," for which we are calling today, thus becomes a significant step to remedy the region's developmental gap and to meet its urgent need. Furthermore, urgent investments in vital projects and infrastructure would ultimately prove to be essential in mitigating the effects of the "waiting period" towards the achievement of regional peace. We are indeed very hopeful that this "period" will not be long, since Lebanon and Syria made "Peace", their strategic and irrevocable choice.
In the name of Lebanon, we thank the states, organizations and funds, which responded to our invitation by accepting to participate in this Conference. We hope that their contribution to the "rehabilitation of South Lebanon and the western Bekaa", would add a much needed momentum to a comprehensive and just Peace. We also thank the United Nations and His Excellency, the Secretary General for their critical role in ensuring the success of this Conference and the achievement of its noble goals.
General Emile Lahoud
President of the Republic of Lebanon