The Diplomatic Service
(content of this page comes from Michel Chiha’s editorials)
…“Although the secular states of the world accepted our sovereignty much earlier we have finally secured the approval of the one-state we sought in particular, namely the Vatican State in Rome, the centre of numerous matters concerning the East. Diplomatic representation will be settled in due time at the convenience of the Holy See and yet in spite of it coming so much later than everywhere else, this particular acknowledgment carries more weight as it signifies the approbation and confirmation of a matter of principle. All remaining doubt has evaporated. This is undoubtedly a historical first…”
Vatican policy and the Lebanon, M.C., Le Jour, April 11th, 1946.
…“We won’t hide our delight at finally establishing diplomatic links with the Holy See. With this news comes a new era with new perspectives for the country. As for the Arab world, it stands as a sign of friendship and an understanding full of promise…”
…“We are extremely gratified that our country’s first-ever representative to the Vatican is the Political Editor of this newspaper and a very close friend. We are confident that Mr. Charles Helou will undertake his duty and this great honour with as much wisdom as tact and devotion…”
Our diplomatic relations with the Vatican, M.C., Le Jour, December 23rd, 1946.
…“We have come a long way in three or four years. Our international standing is such that we address the great nations in the same tone as we do the lesser ones… …having reached this very broad agreement we can now move on to Wednesday’s debate on Foreign Policy. When we reach the same accommodation in our Internal Policy will rest easy…”
Our foreign policy, M.C., Le Jour, February 14th, 1947.
…“We hear from Rome that our diplomatic representative to the Vatican, Mr. Charles Helou, was very well received upon presenting his credentials. It was an extremely moving and solemn occasion whereby our country was privy to the highest consideration. This momentous event is bound to resonate throughout our region…”
A ceremony and a course of action, M.C., Le Jour, March 19th, 1947.
…“In just a few days Lebanon will have the honour of receiving the very first Papal Nuncio appointed to Beirut. We are impatient for this long-awaited and hoped-for appointment. It is encouraging to know that the representative of the Holy See will soon get a closer look not only at the general issues prevalent in the Arab world but more importantly the serious business of Palestine which deeply affects not only us and our friends in the Arab League but all the religious communities in the Near East. In his memorable statement to our representative Mr. Charles Helou, His Holiness Pope Pius XII was gracious enough to give his solemn encouragement to those small states that played a part in recent history. He said: “Out of the struggle for the rule of law comes the success or the decline of nations”.
The UN Palestine Enquiry, M.C., Le Jour, May 29th, 1947.
…“What at first appeared promising in 1946 became a reality. Then we organised the exchange of diplomatic appointees with the Holy See whereby the Beirut Nunciature was established and our own diplomatic envoy was very amiably received. This Near Eastern diplomatic representation with the Holy See was intended as a collaborative effort to oversee the spiritual wellbeing of the region. It is primarily a question of people’s soul…”
Serving the soul, M.C., Le Jour, January 23rd, 1951.
…“in order to justify a coherent Foreign Policy it must be endorsed by a more informed Home Policy…”
In the interest of public welfare, M.C., Le Jour, March 25th, 1952.
The Diplomatic Service
The Lebanese Representative to France presents his credentials
“Today at 10:30 on Saturday the 27th of January, the President of the Provisional French Government held an official audience at the Presidential Palace with Ahmed Bey DAOUK, who handed him his official letters of accreditation as the Special Envoy and the Minister Plenipotentiary of the Lebanese Republic to France.
Military honours were accorded upon both arrival and departure.”
Le Monde, January 28-29th, 1945.
Diplomatic Appointment to the US
…“Our diplomatic representation has grown. After the first postings in London and Paris and after the posting of Mr. Joseph Salem to Cairo where he has received much praise, we have now appointed Mr. Charles Malik to Washington. Mr. Malik is a graduate of Harvard University and as a professor of Philosophy in Beirut he has undoubtedly absorbed a degree of wisdom. He is bound to do well in the United States where men of his caliber are appreciated..”
Lebanon in Washington, M.C., Le Jour, March 28th, 1945.
…“The largest community of expatriate Lebanese is in the United States of America and now, with diplomatic and consular representation, even those who have fully adopted their host country’s nationality will find if not a political than certainly a spiritual link to their home country. Flying above the Lebanese legation in Washington¸ the Lebanese flag is bound to touch the hearts of the thousands of emigrants who reside in America. The skill lies henceforth in championing their now independent mother land by appealing in every way to the souls and memories of even the most disunited Lebanese.
The nascent Lebanese diplomatic corps has a progressively important role to play. Handling the needs of such a large emigrant population in itself offers untold possibilities and our Mr. Charles Malik, who will be in charge of this enormous community, is certainly qualified to offer the support and nostalgic comfort needed to those so far away from home. We wish Mr. Charles Malik every chance of success…”
Lebanon in Washington, M.C., Le Jour, March 28th, 1945.
What President Eisenhower said to Ambassador Charles Malik when he presented his credentials: …“In these troubled times the concept and purpose of the Lebanese State carry an amplified meaning and an even greater value. If men of goodwill hope to see fairness, peace, security and human dignity prevail in the face of despotism they must tirelessly strive together in order to achieve this. Where geographic borders and cultural differences exist, intentions are sometimes misunderstood and security compromised. As a traditional bridge between East and West, Lebanon plays a role in reducing distances (of mind and mile) and brings a productive amalgamation between East and West closer…”
A memorable event, M.C., Le Jour, May 13th, 1953.
…“In visiting Mr. Mendès-France in New York to update him on developments in the Near East and the Arab Mediterranean world, our ambassador to the United States acted with courtesy and common sense.
Mr Charles Malik is on very good terms with Mr. Mendès-France whom he knows from his days on the U.N’s Economic and Social Council. It was an opportunity to give the French President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) an overview of the current situation in the Near East and the Arab Mediterranean and Mr. Malik felt that it had been a fruitful endeavour for both sides as Mr. Mendès-France shares our desire for peace and the rule of law.
The Ambassador will of course be informing the Government as well as the U.N. representatives of the fifteen Arab and Asian states on the outcome of his visit. The unfortunate term ‘Arab-Asian’ still occasionally appears in official dispatches but in spite of the confusing and imprecise nature of this throwback expression, without a doubt the prickly topics of the Near East, North Africa and Israel would have been discussed as any self-respecting Lebanese diplomat would have expected and been prepared for. This is what diplomacy and policy making is all about…”
About a conversation in New York, M.C., Le Jour, November 25th, 1954.
A matter of French Assets
The United Nations 1945 San Francisco Conference:
…“Doubtless on the advice of Beirut, “France has suggested to Britain, the United States, Russia and China that Lebanon and Syria ought to be present in San Francisco”. We are openly delighted. The remarkable shift in France’s diplomatic policy was inevitable but is still very welcome. Previous contact with the Quay d’Orsay was glacial to say the least and both the Third Republic and the Twentieth Century together somehow failed to foster a more contemporary outlook along the unwelcoming corridors of France’s Foreign Office leaving outsiders lost in a maze of cunning schemes with no means of egress.
In the end goodwill prevailed and we have succeeded in both the East and the West. We are no longer in danger of being left waiting on the sidelines…”
A happy event, M.C., Le Jour, March 24th, 1945.
Summary of ‘Lebanon goes to San Francisco’ article:
“As an independent and sovereign nation and henceforth a member of the United Nations Lebanon is sending a delegation to represent the country at the forthcoming United Nations meeting in San Francisco. Having participated albeit modestly in the downfall of the Axis powers and having obtained recognition of our sovereignty we have the indisputable right as legitimate co-members to attend international conferences of the United Nations. Why Lebanon was not on the list drawn up at Yalta is an unfair and incomprehensible mystery. Nevertheless, we laboured hard and fast for support and recognition of our statehood and our rights and have ultimately obtained these equally in the West as in the East which is why we will be attending the historic gathering in San Francisco in spite of those sceptics who believe that only violence is the solution to everything. Enormous changes have occurred since 1918 not least of which is the realisation that a policy of conquest and domination is no longer viable. In an era of interdependence Peace must either reign everywhere or nowhere. To reiterate, the invitation to participate in the San Francisco conference represents the admittance of Lebanon to the world community of independent nations and constitutes an avowal of our right, as a member of those nations who struggled against the Axis, to participate henceforth in all meetings of the United Nations.”
Khalil Gemayel, Editor-in-chief, March 25th, 1945.
…“Moreover, as Mr. Philippe Takla often reiterates, to have a number of independent votes at the heart of the United Nations is worth more than having a united but obviously subordinate vote…”
The game has lasted long enough, M.C., Le Jour November 22nd, 1946.
…“On the 1st of December, the Egyptian press carried the details of an interview given by Mr. Philippe Takla our Foreign Minister, currently in Cairo on official business, to the local correspondent of the renowned French newspaper Le Monde. Mr. Takla stated openly and in a spirit of reciprocal good will, that no problem between France and Lebanon was insurmountable. We sincerely believe this to be true. Mr Takla raised the issues of impounded enemy property, joint tribunals and French real-estate property in Lebanon and very soon this newspaper plans to take a closer look at these all-too familiar issues of contention.
In every single case we have no doubt that a reasonable and conscientious outcome is possible, and that there is a simple solution if only Lebanon’s sovereignty is always borne in mind and that every consideration and courtesy is shown to France as a great secular ally to both Lebanon and all the Arab countries.
The world today may be in constant flux but certain basic values never change. History in general is full of delusions, quarrels and mistakes and yet the lessons it imparts are obviously quite real as seen in the friction between the representatives of the French and Lebanese administrations…
…No one in Lebanon believes that a serious falling out with France over an issue like this is possible especially as the matter has already been conclusively settled and that a six-month delay is unlikely to seriously upset anyone involved. We have an obligation to those we like and respect to openly state that an over-insistence on rushing what is a technical issue when it was only a matter of courtesy, is objectionable. Once the principle is agreed the onus should be on finding a more elegant solution.
The second matter also relates to French Government assets. In the interest of good will and harmony as described by Mr. Takla, we find it normal, fair, correct and politic to help resolve this issue as soon as possible. Indeed, if we tackled it straight on it could be resolved in a matter of days. There is no reason for it to linger on for weeks and it is high time we all acted calmly and constructively…”
To smooth away a few difficulties, M.C., Le Jour, December 4th, 1946.
Philippe Takla, Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and the matter of French assets:
…“The Lebanese were touched by the warm reception in Rome of their Minister of State. He was also received warmly in Brazil, in Argentina and Spain. Like Paris, Mr. Philippe Takla found himself in familiar territory everywhere he went but a warm reception in Rome represents something quite different to one in Madrid. An official Lebanese presence in the New World as well as in the Old is a reminder of the past because history inevitably ensures a link between the turbulent and changing new times and the distant eras of the past.
The Lebanese Minister was honourably welcomed in Italy both verbally and in gesture. Mr. Takla was first greeted in person by Mr. Gaspari before his visit to the Capitol. In the absence of Count Sforza, currently in London on official business, he met with the Under Secretary of State before his audience with the Holy Father at the Vatican.
It is incumbent on the Lebanese people and their representatives that they should travel abroad in order to broadcast our little nation’s comprehensive range of assets and to promote its place in the broader scheme of things…”
Lebanon in Rome, M.C., Le Jour, May 18th, 1950.
“About homonyms, three Mr. “Malik” involved :
The Soviet delegate at the UN was addressed in Arabic by a journalist who had mistaken him (in error) for Mr. Malik, the Lebanese delegate. As regards Mr. Malik, the Indian Ambassador to France, he was addressed in Russian by a delegate who mistook him for Mr. Malik, the USSR representative. Why can’t they all be called Smith like everyone else?”
France’s Le Canard newspaper at the United Nations (1949)
…“The speech given by the Lebanese minister of foreign affairs at the United Nations in Paris on the 15th of November honoured Lebanon and the member states of the League . It was righteous in its call for freedom, justice and peace. It reminded us all “that Peace is the product of fairness. That those who govern must fulfil their obligations and defend the governed”. Mr Charles Helou has pleaded with conviction and force for the internationalisation of Jerusalem, for the repatriation of refugees, for Egyptian independence, and for the resolution of all Arab State issues… Mr. Charles Helou has set the same high tone that inspired the events celebrated on this national holiday, namely human dignity and high mindedness…”
About a speech, M.C., Le Jour, November 22nd, 1951.