By Amine Jules Iskandar for Ici Beyrouth – The Syriac Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Béchara Raï, received in Bkirké Mr. Georges Azar, the representative in Lebanon of Reconquête (Reconquest), the political party of French presidential candidate Éric Zemmour. Mr. Azar gave Patriarch Raï a letter from Mr. Zemmour reaffirming France’s unwavering friendship and promising to do everything possible to help the Lebanese people, if elected as French president.
Georges Azar told the Patriarch that Eric Zemmour is deeply sorry that he was unable to deliver this letter to him in person. The candidate nevertheless promised that one of his first official visits as president would be to Lebanon.
The content of the letter
In his letter to the patriarch, Éric Zemmour begins by recalling the historical ties that France and Lebanon have always maintained, ties that are constantly enriched and reinforced by French culture in Lebanon and by the Lebanese diaspora in France of 200,000 people. Mr. Zemmour then underlined the crucial role played by the Syriac Maronite patriarchate in the establishment of modern Lebanon within its current borders. For the presidential candidate, the Lebanese Church has worked from the start on the formation of Greater Lebanon. France only ratified this secular intention.
However, the text specifies that despite all the best and noblest intentions, several missteps were committed, particularly in 1926 and 1943. For Mr. Zemmour, these steps should be reconsidered in the light of more recent events and, might possibly be remedied by adopting a more decentralized and regionalized system of governance, more adapted to the country’s diversity and capable of guaranteeing the sustainability and viability of the country. In addition to the neutrality proposed by the Syriac Maronite patriarchate, these solutions could remake Lebanon to “the Switzerland of the East”, concludes the document.
Eric Zemmour further recalls in his letter that the principle of neutrality is anchored in Lebanese political history. This principle is inherited from the Governorate of Mount Lebanon which adopted it already in 1861. It is this principle which ensured the prosperity of the governorate and, later, that of Greater Lebanon. The abandonment of this principle during the Cairo Accords of 1969 destroyed Lebanon and its population, all whose components are still paying the price. Éric Zemmour adds that if he were elected president, France would use all its weight on the line to convene an international conference under UN auspices for the restoration of this vital neutrality advocated by Bkerké.
During our personal exchange following his visit to Bkirké, Georges Azar underlined that “diversity is based on respect for the cultural identities of the groups present”. During his interview with the Patriarch, he was able to elaborate on this question and raise its importance as a wealth to be preserved. – since it constitutes the special identity of Lebanon in this part of the world. On the sidelines of this subject, Patriarch Raï and Mr. Azar briefly discussed the progress of the French presidential elections as well as news from the Syriac Maronite eparchy of France.
For Éric Zemmour, the preservation and rescue of Lebanon is an intrinsic part of France’s historic mission. For a Gaullist, abandoning Lebanon would be nothing less than to lose part of the soul of France, its pride, and its greatness. It would leave behind a part of itself there. The question of Lebanon is therefore not an option, because it touches on one of the dimensions of the identity of France and of its Christian civilizational roots.