President Michel Aoun marked the launch of drilling works for first offshore oil well in Lebanon in a televised speech on Wednesday evening.
The following is the President's speech:
“My fellow Lebanese ladies and gentlemen,
We are a few hours away from launching officially the drilling of the first oil well in Lebanon, at a point of our territorial waters, facing our shores and in front of our mountain peaks which will bear witness to the importance of this event.
Lebanon will witness indeed a historic day tomorrow, a turning point between what came “before” and what will come “after”. It will separate between “before” and “after”. Lebanon’s present and future will evoke it as The Day when our nation entered officially the club of oil countries, the countries rich with one of the most important sources of energy in the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries for the economies of contemporary humanity. It gives me great pleasure that this event is taking place in the year during which the Lebanese Republic is commemorating the centenary of the creation of the Greater Lebanon.
Since my return to Lebanon in 2005, after the years of exile, I have been conscious that the dream of many faithful citizens must be fulfilled. Through the “Change and Reform” parliamentary bloc that I had presided over for years, and through the ministries that we have held, in particular the Ministry of Energy assumed by Minister Gebran Bassil and those who succeeded him, we have been committed to working day and night, relentlessly, in order to fulfill this dream that I will be launching tomorrow with much pride.
This event was supposed to be kicked off in 2013 but internal and political difficulties prevented it. How can we forget that it was sometimes hindered by the turmoil of the region and sometimes by events that have stormed our nation? Too often did covetousness, will and maneuvers stand in the way of its fulfilment.
We must as well avail ourselves of this occasion to express the due gratitude to all those who contributed to this achievement.
My fellow Lebanese ladies and gentlemen,
As we are going through the toughest economic and financial crisis in the modern history of Lebanon, I am confident that this event is of paramount importance, not the least at the geopolitical level, and it affirms our active presence and the elements of our strength and steadfastness.
Our destiny is not to remain exposed to crises that generate each other, making us desperate about our nation, thus driving us to desert it, emigrate from it or deny it. Today, more than any time before, we are determined to shoulder the responsibility of facing wrong economic policies as well as successive and numerous accumulations, and to put an end to them in view of stopping this downward path that has brought us to this point decades ago. We have the will to confront, for the sake of Lebanon’s survival and perpetuity, to revive peace of mind and bring the cycle of life back to normal.
Although the event that we will be celebrating tomorrow comes amid circumstances of suffering that we are going through together, it will stand out as a cornerstone to get out of the abyss, and a decisive milestone to transform our economy from a rentier, utilitarian economy, to a productive one to which everyone contributes and by which everyone benefits; an economy where our young potentials are formed, with all their enthusiasm, knowledge and strong willpower, are the engine, the foundation and the objective; and thousands of new and promising job opportunities have been opened for them.
My fellow Lebanese ladies and gentlemen,
Our oil and gas resources belong outspokenly to all the Lebanese. Their revenues constitute a sovereign wealth that can neither be the object of squandering nor corruption, and can neither be controlled by one party nor seized by anyone.
It is also a trust for the present and future of our generations, and we shall protect it with all our solidity, tenacity and strength. We shall not squander them, and as we defended and are defending our legitimate right to every inch of our precious soil, so shall we defend, with the same fierceness, our right to every drop of our territorial waters which hold our oil and gas. I promise you that this will not be the object of concession or dependence.
As we shall celebrate together launching the drilling of the first oil well in Lebanon, I call on you all to open a window of hope in the wall of the crisis that we are going through. I am confident that we shall overcome it with our willpower and resolve, so that we get out of it stronger, after ridding ourselves from its repercussions, in order to bring back to our years and to the future of our children their well-deserved bliss.”