The death of my brother, Bashir, has been a bitter personal and national experience for me and most other Lebanese. I am mourning him, but even in this tragedy, I find hope and determination. Hope stems from my deep belief that Bashir did not die in vain. Rather, he infused us all with his values and determination to liberate Lebanon of foreign occupation and to build a pluralist Lebanese society where individuals matter and where the purpose of the state is the protection of the right of its citizens to live in tranquillity and abundance.
These ideas of liberty, cultural pluralism, rugged individualism and political and economic security have not died -- and will not die -- with Bashir. We are determined to fulfill his memory and legacy by adhering to his ideas and working to make his program a reality.
The unity, spirit and strength of the Lebanese people have once again stood their ground in the aftermath of Bashir's calamitous death; almost all of Lebanon's leaders--Sunnis, Maronites, Shiites, Greek Orthodox, Druze, Greek Catholic -- gathered together at his funeral in a unique show of unity in our bleeding country. Lebanon's unshakable political institutions once again took on their customary task of electing a president.
This spirit of consolidation, unity and resolution is a source of hope for us all. It deals a crushing blow to his cowardly assassins, whose intention was to destroy the process of reconciliation and governance that Bashir had set in motion.
I condemn in the strongest possible terms the massacre of unarmed Palestinian civilians that occurred at the refugee camps last week. The Kataeb (Phalangist) party has always stood for deeply held Lebanese values of human justice, human rights and peace. This human tragedy, with which the Kataeb and its members had absolutely no involvement or association, makes it imperative that there emerge a strong central government.
As a member of parliament for 12 years and a Kataeb party leader who has lived through the past decade of violence in Lebanon, I have had ample time to ponder the future of my country. My image of Lebanon and its future is that of my brother and my countrymen. I would set the following goals:
1. To regain Lebanon's sovereignty by ensuring the immediate removal of all foreign forces from Lebanese soil.
2. To reconstruct the fiber of society by consolidating the spirit of unity toward which the Lebanese aspire, irrespective of political, religious or ethnic differences.
3. To create a strong administration and unified government in which all elements of society would participate in both responsibilities and benefits.
4. To rebuild the Lebanese army, which would protect our internal security and, equally important, guarantee Lebanon will not be used to undermine the security of its neighbors, Israel and Syria.
5. To establish the strongest bond between Lebanon and the United States. Politically, culturally and economically, our countries have a great deal in common. We want to consolidate a permanent relationship, which is imperative for Lebanon's survival and American interests.
We are grateful for President Reagan's noble role and for the labors of Ambassadors Philip Habib and Morris Draper and the American administration and people to bring peace to Lebanon. We hope the United States will continue its efforts to ensure the withdrawal of all foreign forces. It is essential that Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity remain a top priority for the United States and the international community.
6. As a member of the Arab League, it must be asserted beyond a shadow of a doubt that Lebanon is a unique society. It has always had a special status and identity that enriches the Arab world: a bridge between East and West and a peace-maker in the region. We intend to recapture this role. We expect like-minded Arab countries to display unambiguous support for Lebanon's renewed vigor.
We want to transform Lebanon into a new, dynamic country. It is no longer permissible for Lebanon to seek a preservation of the status quo as we did in the past, when our policies were designed merely to buy time.
In Lebanon, there are citizens who have been refugees for more than a decade and have suffered economically, psychologically and physically. Our reconstruction effort will have to focus on them and on the problem in its entirety.
We realize that reconstruction and development will require time, patience, political acumen and good will from the Lebanese and from the world. We will be approaching our neighbors and international supporters with development and financing plans. The renaissance of this nation is dependent upon their support.
Lebanese who are citizens of other countries have been proud of their heritage, and have sacrificed a great deal. They are our pride, and their support and participation will be essential. We extend a special call to them to contribute their talent, initiative, energy and resources.
We know better than anyone that our problems are monumental and require dedication and boundless energy. Each of us, however, is determined to rebuild Lebanon, and we will do it.