Closing Statement delivered by The Minster of Trade and Economy, H.E. Dr. Nasser Saidi, at the NGO Conference for southern Lebanon, September 28, 2000


Ladies and Gentlemen,


Although, the Lebanese Government appreciates and recognizes the importance of the efforts undertaken for the success of this conference, given the crucial role that local and international NGOís can play in the reconstruction of southern Lebanon, I would like to seize this opportunity to stress that the postponement of the Donorsí Conference that was scheduled in October is not to the benefit of Lebanon or the international community.


Indeed, this conference is an essential complementary to the Donorís Conference that was scheduled to take place in October, yet it cannot be a substitute for it, particularly that NGOís fields of intervention are limited to social mobilization, vocational training, capacity building, agricultural development, micro enterprise and income generating activities. Thus infrastructure projects and de-mining programs have to be undertaken by the government.    


In this context, I would like to stress the fact that any delay in meeting the development needs of the newly liberated territories would threaten our hard-won stability in Lebanon, and would have serious implications on the social, economic and political stability of the Middle East. In this respect, the Lebanese Government is undertaking efforts to seek means of cooperation and assistance for southern Lebanon on a bilateral basis, for meeting the urgent needs of the liberated areas cannot be postponed for another Donorís conference. 


Ladies and Gentlemen,


The liberation of Southern Lebanon has been the only positive development and achievement of years of so-far sterile attempts at achieving a peaceful settlement in the region. The Lebanese Government is determined to build on this achievement, in order to realize a national objective, independently of small interests, and political agendas, whether local or international, and the deployment of the Lebanese army and UNIFIL, quickly following removal of Israeli border violations is live testimony of this commitment.


However, it is also within the international communityís reach to help us achieve that goal towards sustained economic, social and political stability in the region. The donorsí conference, that was scheduled in October, and was unfortunately postponed, was supposed to be one major step forward. The coming period is of strategic choice for all of us, so let us all take the right decisions for the benefit of Lebanon and the whole region.


Therefore, I would like to seize this opportunity to invite all NGOs local and international, to cooperate with the Lebanese Government to face the challenges of the liberation, and to coordinate efforts in order to maximize the assistance to be provided to our people in the South.


Thank you.