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Can Europe's experience of peace help a Lebanon in crisis?Other
The first "political café" at Beirut's Time Out bar on 23 March had some sixty people debating Lebanon's political future over a drink.
"To be inspired by an experience of peace, it is essential to consider economic solidarity between the Lebanese", said the head of the EU office, Patrick Laurent, introducing the session with a look back at the foundations of the European model.
Two Lebanese speakers analysed possible routes for Lebanon out of its current crisis.
Fadia Kiwan, director of the Institute of political science at St Joseph University, and Karam Karam, political scientist and director at the Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies. Both considered that while Lebanon could gain inspiration from Europe, the two were not comparable, so Lebanon could not apply the European model.
Fadia Kiwan cited "the hostile environment" in which Lebanon was evolving as one or the main differences, as well as the economic question "which is not common ground for the Lebanese, as their divisions centre on a fundamental question – what model of society?".
For Karam Karam, decentralising in favour of local collectives and strengthening the role of civil society could be a means of integrating the interests of different players. In the absence of a political project at the end of the war, he said, "Lebanon is characterised by diversity without unity, whereas Europe is united in diversity".
Three newspapers carried supplements by the EU office on Monday 25 March to mark the 50th anniversary: Al-Akhbar (Arabic), the Daily Star (English) and l'Orient- Le Jour (French).
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