The project, according to Bassil, “is more important than the name of the president, because the president without a project fails. We cannot say we want reform and bring in a president who is immersed in corruption, and who has no project or aspirations, not even a programme. Most of the candidates today and those applying for the presidency do not know anything about their economic opinion, and they do not have any reform vision or legal concept to restructure the state. Bassil refuses to “surrender” to the idea that there is an impossibility of reform in Lebanon, and says: “In light of the calm in the region, this matter helps us stop the policy of challenges and fear of the other, and there is always an opportunity for reform.”
In return for communicating with the “confrontation” team, Basil confirms that communication with the “rejection” team is not cut off. However, he believes that “what is important is that this communication be with the aim of reaching a result, and not that each party sticks to its position.” He said: «They consider that they want the agreement and say we have our candidate, submit your candidate. This is their right, but it is their duty, if something like this happens, to deal with it positively and not negatively. And it is our duty to deal with them and others positively as well, not negatively, and we affirm that we have the desire, ability, confidence, and sufficient elements to be able to do this matter.
“Hezbollah” and the national divorce
Despite his complaints about Hezbollah’s performance, Basil refuses to accept the existence of a “divorce” with him. He says: «We cannot divorce each other patriotic, because each divorce process negatively affects the country. There is a major disagreement and it translates into the fact that each party has its own presidential candidate, and later if we meet with the project, we will meet again. Nothing in the sense of breaking is convinced today that it is useful, neither with them nor with others.
Basil sees the need to develop the constitution. And he says: “We are with Taif and we adhere to it, but this does not prevent its development, by implementing it first within its mechanism and without prejudice to the country’s balances and the basic principles of its constituents, and by removing obstruction tools without increasing the powers of one party or decreasing the powers of another party and not attacking a component or a sect.” , and solving daily procedural matters, proving that the constitution is developing itself, and that it has the necessary effectiveness, such as decentralization, the Senate and the civil state.
What role for Lebanon in the midst of changes in the region and the world?
Bassil believes that it is urgent to “get out of the negative equation, which says no to the West or the East, and turn it into a positive equation, yes to the East and yes to the West.” This indicates the nature of Lebanon, its geographical location, and the role it must play, without Lebanon abandoning its basic constants that protect and preserve it as an entity. And he stresses the need to “preserve his privacy, which is based on diversity and recognition of the other, and full partnership in governance.” These peculiarities “are what give him internal immunity; Where there is no domination of one party over another, nor monopolization or marginalization, and this Lebanon is a blessing to the East and the West, living in harmony with its surroundings, first in the economic East with Syria, Jordan and Iraq. And secondly, by integrating the advantages of our economy with the Arab Gulf, and at the same time we can be in good relations with Iran, Turkey and Egypt, and be a factor of attraction and a factor of good, and not always a factor of conflict.
Bassil believes that “the opportunity today is this revolutionary policy in the development and economic sense, which is led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the region.” He notes that “all the youth are with him in his country.” And he continues, “What do I want more than a whiff of hope, modernity, and modernity, to say that this is what I want for Lebanon, this is its role? Today, the region has preceded us, and we must catch up.”
He adds, “Openness to the Arab world is necessary, and a review of the mistakes we made towards the Arabs in general as well. Saudi Arabia looks at the situation from a special angle. Ambassador (Walid) Bukhari was clear in his words that the Kingdom does not place a veto on anyone, so did they understand what he really said? The view with which they deal with Arab interest is narrow. The Arabs are following the Lebanese situation, and if it is on the right path, they will support us, but if we repeat the mistakes, they will turn away from us. Is this appropriate?”. He says: «We lived this experience with General Aoun, and he made his first visit when he was elected president to Saudi Arabia before France and before the Vatican. On the contrary, the results were negative. From here, I learn from this experience and approach it in a different way, and I do not repeat it.
Which Lebanon do we want, Hanoi or Hong Kong?
Bassil believes that “Lebanon is able to be a mixture between the Hanoi (revolutionary) and Hong Kong (economic) models. In the sense of resistance and productivity ». He says: «It could be Hanoi, and to go to Hong Kong, but with the preservation of democracy and the elements of power that protect, and then you say I want to become the model of Hong Kong with productivity and social justice. You have to be flexible and deal with the stages as required by the interest of your country. The level of Hong Kong in the equation must increase because the resistance is victorious, and we must go towards more development and increase its level at the expense of weapons.
Difficult alliances and bitter experiences
And about the bitter experience during the era of President Aoun, when you did not leave a friend of yours, and no one left you to make an achievement? Bassil says: “No matter what happens, we are not hateful, because hatred kills its owner and kills the country, and the proof is that we said that we forgave Suleiman Franjieh despite everything he did towards us during the six years, but this matter does not make us support him as the owner of a project in which we do not see salvation. And the same thing in the second prank with the Lebanese Forces, we consider that they stabbed us, but looking to the future we forgive, and we say we are obligated to each other. And with the expansion of the capacity of understanding more, this will be reflected in our society. The same applies to other components, not just Christians.
As for “Hezbollah,” Bassil says: “Today we are greatly wounded by (Hezbollah), and the wound is deep, but in the end we live together, and we want each other to understand and find solutions. And when I look at the contrast today, the Shiite component feels strong, and I want it to be strong, not weak. But I do not want another component, the Sunni component, to feel weak. Our interest is to secure this balance within the Christian community and the Muslim community and between Muslims and Christians, because when Lebanon loses these internal balances, it is ruined.
On the other hand, Basil stresses that “the quest for balance should become a means of disruption, for the system to disrupt itself. But balance must remain a title for coexistence. There are strategic matters that must be agreed upon, and there are other matters in which we accept the logic of minority and majority in a cabinet, or opposition and loyalty.
On the issue of Syria’s return to the Arab League, Basil seems relieved, saying: “Today we rejoice at Syria’s return to the Arab League because this is a victory, and Syria’s victory over terrorism is a victory for Lebanon. If it loses to terrorism, Lebanon loses. All of these options are profit options. Above all, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came to embrace her and bring her back to the university. This is the double chance, it’s a win-win. In the case of the displaced, for example, it is certain that what is happening in the region helps the return of the displaced, but this matter requires a decision from the Lebanese state, as it cannot continue with the same policy, and it must benefit. The solution to these problems necessarily involves reconstruction in Syria, the return of the displaced, and we have to be a part of it and not just a spectator or receiver. We are part of its formulation, by adopting a national policy that receives this regional understanding. Unlike Jordan and Turkey, which imposed their demands on the file of the displaced, the absence of the Lebanese state led to the absence of a decision. Hence the greatest need for a prime minister and a government that takes decisions and changes approved policies.
He believes that “the return of the displaced can take place by stopping financing their survival or financing their return, and for the state to suppress lawbreakers.” And he affirms that “Europe is carrying out the policy that suits it, but it cannot be accepted to solve its problem at our expense.”
The US sanctions imposed on Bassil are “unjust,” as he always says, and it is “a matter that must be corrected.” And he says, “I don’t know if the Americans realized the extent to which the sanctions policy harmed them. They lost people who could have been friends. They put groups and countries outside their financial system.”
Bassil believes that “the sanctions policy as a whole did not produce the desired results from America. For example, a large portion of the Shiites in Lebanon, and because they were threatened with sanctions, took their money out of the banking system in Lebanon, and protected their money in this way (after the banks seized the depositors’ money). And the countries they imposed sanctions on, especially after the Ukraine crisis, forced them to search for an alternative system to the American banking system. Bassil points out that “the (former President Barack Obama) administration undertook a serious review of the issue of sanctions,” recalling how it dealt with Iran in the nuclear agreement, with Iraq, and with Cuba.
And he says: «No one can force us to disagree with (Hezbollah), we disagree with it when we see that the interest of Lebanon requires this matter. When they were imposed on us, we did not accept, but when matters occurred that required us to disagree, we disagreed with (Hezbollah).”
In response to a question about the Americans not holding him accountable for his relationship with Hezbollah, but rather on corruption charges, Bassil says: “Everyone knows that the corruption charges are not true. We challenged them, and they did not prove anything. All the measures we are taking to prove that nothing justifies sanctions.