To share experiences and recommendations, to address issues of conflict, violent extremism and hate speech, and to contribute to the national debate and efforts in developing alternative narratives to counter extremist messages were the objectives of this mission. It was organized under the umbrella of the “leaders telling a Different Story” project.
“Peace is a precondition for economic development and prosperity, economic development is a precondition for social development. One can’t go without the other”, said PM Lagumdzija (Bosnia and Herzegovina 2001-2002) during his meeting with Lebanese authorities. The mission to Beirut, from 28 May to june 1, 2017, was organized within the framework of the Project “PVE: Leaders Telling a Different Story”.
Member Lagumdzija met with PM Fuad Siniora (PM of Lebanon 2005-2009) and President Amine Gemayel (President of lebanon 1982-1988), both Members of Club de Madrid, the Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Moueen Meraabi, the Minister of Interior and Municipalities Nohad Machnouk, Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Abdel Latif Deryan, and representatives of civil society organizations.
The conclusions of these meetings can be summarized as: conflict resolution should present a multi-disciplinary approach, identity must be an issue to take into account, it is vital to address the root causes of the conflict instead of using the force directly, there is a necessity to send messages of hope to the youth, and it is essential to work with organization working on the ground while engaging communities and giving them ownership when trying to counter radicalization. “Once we address the root causes of conflict we won’t have this fertile ground for radicalization”, said Grand Mufti.
During this mission, Club de Madrid shared the findings of the focus groups held at the beginning of the year in Lebanon and Tunisia, and discussed the situation with Syrian refugees in the country. In this regard, the state Minister for Refugees’ Affairs, Moeen Meraabi, said that “it is important to invest in the infrastructure of the host Lebanese communities in order to maintain the balance in the community”, and added that “the challenges facing both the Lebanese host communities and Syrian refugees has to be a priority or the consequences will have serious repercussions on the society”.
The Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, explained that “our PVE strategy is based on building trust between stakeholders as a main narrative”, and Lagumdzija stressed the idea that “Political restructure in areas of conflict is not possible without political will internally or externally”
On a side event, Club de Madrid collaborated with president Gemayel’s foundation, Maison du Futur, organizaing an event titled “Lebanon and the Syrian Refugees: Human Dignitiy, Counter-Extremism and Safe Return at Stake”.