Mexican Ambassador pushes Lebanese to skirt current deadlock, avoid regional turmoil

Written by: Marie Khoury


Translated by: Rana Al-Hajj


Mexican Ambassador to Lebanon, Jaime Garcia Amaral, urged in an interview with "National News Agency" correspondent, Mary Khoury, the Lebanese to "reach agreement in a bid to help Lebanon surpass the prevailing stalemate situation," hailing as well the Lebanese army and the Lebanese Armed Forces "as the sole guarantor of national unity and security among the Lebanese people."


The Mexican diplomat also stressed the need to "keep Lebanon away from the repercussions of the Syrian conflict," hoping that "Lebanon remains unscathed by the sectarian conflicts taking place in the region."


Amaral did not fail to heap praise on the Lebanese Diaspora in Mexico, noting that six ministers of the Mexican government are of Lebanese origin.


He went on to declare that one of his top priorities was to create a good business atmosphere between Lebanon and Mexico, pointing to some joint  cooperation projects in the making between the National News Agency and the Ministries of Culture and Economy.


Ambassador Amaral also shone light on the most recent reforms that took place in Mexico, and said, "They're ambitious and courageous reforms that affected 12 different sectors in order to increase growth, productivity and economic prosperity. They also aim to open various sectors to foreign investments, to create one million job opportunities per year, and to distribute revenues among citizens in a fair way to help them out of poverty."


"The President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, has called on the country's three major political parties to reach agreement under the title of 'Agreement for Mexico', which despite political divergences, aims to develop a state vision and strategy that enable it to increase growth and development through radical reforms. This agreement was signed back in December 2012, a thing which enabled us to reach significant reforms that have been issued this month to effect 12 different sectors.  Six of these reform items are allocated to increase productivity -- through tax financial reforms that affected the telecommunications and energy sectors -- whereas other reforms focus on strengthening the rule of law and citizens' rights, activating the judicial system by means of accelerating judicial procedures, strengthening democracy, and promoting freedom," the Mexican Ambassador explained.


"Reforms also included the electoral system and focused on transparency and anti-corruption that enable increased safety and provide citizens with access to all the information they want. This is not to mention the set of reforms that affected the educational system," Amaral added.


"All of these reforms will push our country forward," he hoped.


The diplomat also focused on the paramount importance of the reforms that have been earmarked for increased productivity.


"Mexico has been enjoying economic stability for years thanks to some decisions that were taken about thirty years ago leading Mexico to economic openness and enabling it to increase exports," he said.


"We have free exchange agreements with about 47 countries, and signed an agreement with Canada and the United States nearly twenty years ago. We have similar agreements with the European Union and other countries in Asia and South America," he added.


"We have become the fourth global exporter of cars, exceeding a $1.3 trillion dollar GDP," Mexico's Ambassador continued.


He went on to announce that "Mexico is an oil producing country, which has a large oil reserve. Twenty years ago, oil comprised 80 percent of Mexico's exports, but today 85 percent of our exports depend on the auto industry."


The diplomat also noted that economic growth had hit 3.5 percent last year, "but hopefully through the economic reforms that we have endorsed, growth would hit the threshold of 5 percent. We do aspire to create one million jobs annually. This is a big challenge, but it will be achieved thanks to the new measures taken by the new government."


"The Mexican state will remain attached to the production of electricity and oil, but reforms have paved the way before the private sector to make investments. The government will decide which oil sectors will be allocated to "Pemex" -- Mexico's oil company -- and which sectors will be subject to public tenders, to enable Mexican or international investments," Amaral explained.


Turning to some important Mexican reforms in the field of telecommunications, which the diplomat said required full opening to private investors, he made clear that the Federal Communications Foundation -- an independent institution responsible for organizing networks and services -- has been established to monitor reforms, spark positive competition, and maintain market regulation.


Touching again on the Lebanese community in Mexico, he said, "we have an excellent and diligent community of nearly 600 to 700 thousand people working in all areas and sectors of business and politics, including our government's current six ministers of Lebanese origin: the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Energy, Health, Education, Environment and Justice, as well as a number of MPs and general managers."


As for Lebanese-Mexican economic relations, the diplomat expressed belief that "the existing economic relations between the two countries are not the size of common interests," adding, "that the relationship between Lebanon and Mexico is more emotional than it is commercial."


"Since my arrival to Lebanon a year ago, I have taken upon myself the mission of boosting the business atmosphere between both of our countries. No one understands why this rich community does not invest in the country of its ancestors. There are also Lebanese people living in Lebanon, but they invest abroad."


As for the fact that Mexico rests door-to-door with the biggest economic power worldwide, Amaral said, "I consider that it is not easy to be neighbors with the biggest economic power in the world, not to mention worrying about building relations with European Union countries. Therefore, we have decided to neglect the rest of the world, and focus more on the fact that we have to restore our role at the international level. I hope that things improve in the future."


Cooperation projects


As for cooperation projects between Lebanon and Mexico, Ambassador Amaral said that he was in the process of preparing, along with Minister of Economy Alain Hakim, a work plan at the economic level, hoping that it will come out with the aspired results.


"We are also preparing for a cooperation agreement between the 'National News Agency' and the 'Mexican News Agency'. It is important to be able to have agencies establish direct cooperative relationships on the media level. We must establish direct links between both of our news agencies, and this is what I had told Information Minister Ramzi Jreij."


The Mexican diplomat also pointed to some cultural, educational, and athletic agreements with Lebanon.


"I met with Culture Minister Roni Araiji and we are working on a program to launch. Our cultural activities include ongoing exhibitions, cinemas, and gastronomy. I have also discussed with Araiji the possibility of launching Lebanese cinema week in Mexico and vice versa," Amaral added, deeming Beirut as the cultural capital of the Middle East.


The ambassador also disclosed that two senior Mexican officials will be visiting Lebanon, including Mexican President Nieto, adding that President Michel Sleiman's visit to Mexico back in 2010 was very important.


The situation in Lebanon


Touching on the situation in Lebanon and on presidential vacuum, Ambassador Amaral pushed the Lebanese for non-stop cooperation.


"We have a tradition in our country not to interfere in the affairs of other countries and we respect this principle, but it is important for the Lebanese to be able to reach agreement over substantial issues to salvage the nation out of the prevailing impasse. We are the friends of Lebanon, we support you, and we shall always remain by your side," he said, adding that his country had participated in the conference in support of the Lebanese army in Rome "because we are aware of the importance of armed forces as an integral part of Lebanese institutions and the sole guarantor of Lebanese security and unity.


Turning to most recent security incidents which shook the battered town of Arsal-Lebanon, he said, "What happened in Arsal is a serious matter. The Syrian conflict on along the Lebanese borders is not easy, and Lebanon's steadfastness is outright evidence that it has made additional effort in order to preserve the country away from the repercussions of neighboring developments."


Concluding his interview with a word of peace and prosperity to the Lebanese, the Mexican diplomat said, "You have a wonderful country and your people are so special. You do not appreciate how lucky you are for being part of such an attractive and beautiful country. I hope that Lebanon remains untouched by all the convulsions taking place in the region."

 

=============R.H.

تابعوا أخبار الوكالة الوطنية للاعلام عبر أثير إذاعة لبنان على الموجات 98.5 و98.1 و96.2 FM

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