For Immediate Release
Good morning, everybody.
I’m here today to talk about my departure from Lebanon. As my time in Lebanon comes to a close, I want to thank the people of Lebanon for the kindness, the hospitality, and the warmth that they have all shown me and the whole U.S. Embassy team for the three and a half years that I have been here. It’s been a privilege and an honor to represent the United States in a place where we have such a long and historic and important relationship and interests.
We established a diplomatic presence in Lebanon in 1833, and ever since, Americans have been by Lebanon’s side, willing and engaged as a partner for the future. We were here to support the founding of the Lebanese American University in 1835 and the American University of Beirut in 1866, and we continue to support their role as beacons to Lebanon and to the entire region. Freedom of thought and expression, creative and critical thinking, and civic responsibility and leadership are qualities that are needed in this country, today more than ever before.
Lebanon is at a turning point. In October, citizens from all sects and all geographic regions went to the streets to demand better from their government. And they are right. There is no reason a country this blessed with so many gifts, including incredible human resources, does not have in 2020 a modern waste management system, 24/7 electricity for everyone, a single armed force under the control of the state, and a growing economy.
The United States has been with the Lebanese people consistently. We are active in all eight governorates of Lebanon and in most of its 1,100 municipalities, engaging with Lebanese citizens to identify areas of shared concern and working to help them to find solutions.
But we as outsiders cannot alone fix what is not working. This is the time for all Lebanese citizens to address the issues of governance and economy head on. Difficult decisions have to be made, and everyone will bear some of the burden. But I believe everyone recognizes that the system of the last few decades is no longer working. So, this is a historic opportunity for the Lebanese people to turn the page. It is a chance to chart a new course that will see this country realize its full potential as a modern and flourishing member of the international community. The success that so many Lebanese emigrants achieve in countries like the United States is testament to the fact that such success is possible here too.
The people of Lebanon are the country’s greatest strength, and we have seen them act in remarkable unity to express legitimate concerns about their future. You hold the power to turn these dreams for your country into reality, and the United States stands with you in a pursuit of such a bright future.
I am confident you will find incoming U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea to be an outstanding representative of the United States and a friend to Lebanon, leading our Embassy team and working closely with all of you to nurture and build our relationship. And I trust that you will welcome her with the same open arms which you extended to me upon my arrival several years ago.
With that, thank you very, very much. I bid farewell to all of you. And I look forward to a very, very bright future for Lebanon. Thank you.