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Massachusetts, February 28, 2002
As the Syrian President, Mr. Bashar Al-Assad, undertakes a visit to the Vatican and the
European Union, the Council of Lebanese American Organizations urges the hosts of Mr.
Al-Assad to raise the question of Lebanon and terrorism with their guest.
Lebanon remains the victim of the nearly 3-decades old Syrian occupation that has ruined
its economy, hijacked its decision-making, destroyed its institutions, and tarnished its
reputation as a haven for terrorism. Syria, on the other hand, remains high on the US
State Department list of countries that sponsor terrorism. To justify its occupation of
Lebanon and its reliance on proxy militias that are out the reach of the Lebanese
government, Syria is seeking to scuttle the international consensus on the war on
terrorism by engaging in the futile semantics of defining terrorism. The irony is that
Syria is the living personification of terrorism: One has to look no further than the
Syrian regime, its brutal oppression of its own people, and its occupation of Lebanon, to
comprehend the perfect definition of terrorism.
The European Union and the Vatican must urge Mr. Al-Assad to:
Withdraw his forces and secret services from Lebanese soil
Officially declare that Syria recognizes the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon
as a distinct nation, and ·
Establish diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon as two fully sovereign
In order for Syria to receive assistance from the European Union, the Syrian regime must
publicly declare its renunciation of terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy. It
must also engage Israel in meaningful negotiations towards a final settlement, and abandon
the policy of holding Lebanon hostage to the Middle East process.
The time has come for Lebanon, the land of Moslem-Christian dialogue and coexistence, to
return to the normalcy of life and to regain its place in the world community. The people
of Lebanon have had more than their share of suffering, and the socioeconomic conditions
under which they live today are simply prolonging their agony. The Vatican has the
moral authority, and the Europe an Community the economic power, to give back to Lebanon
its sovereignty and independence. Lebanon has always honored the basic principles of
freedom and democracy upon which the European Nations have founded their very existence.
Long Live Free