After our visit to the Lebanese Embassy in Berne, His Excellency Mansour Chaya, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Lebanese Embassy in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein, took time to answer three questions for the forausBlog.
1. How does Lebanon see Switzerland and what lies ahead for Swiss-Lebanese relations?
Lebanon was considered to be the Switzerland of the East for a long time. Nowadays, Lebanon looks up to Switzerland as an example of a successful country. We are very interested in your political system and your way of life. Mainly the stability of the Swiss institutions and how your inclusive society achieves social peace are great role models for us.
2. What do you consider the greatest challenges for Lebanon’s foreign policy?
There are many challenges that we face today but the single greatest challenge is of course the Syrian Crisis and the rising number of refugees seeking shelter in Lebanon. There are over 2 million refugees in my country, for which we gladly offer shelter but we need all the help we can get. Therefore, we are asking the European Union and the rest of the world to get more involved with humanitarian aid efforts in Lebanon. As a future goal, we would like to get the refugees back home in a safe way once the situation improves. Well-guarded safety zones could be a possible solution.
3. You have been in Berne for 2.5 years – what has surprised you most about Switzerland?
Seeing that the Swiss people and the Lebanese people and their respective histories have great similarities was a pleasant surprise as well as an interesting lesson. The Swiss have managed to overcome their differences over many centuries of difficulties. I hope the same will happen to Lebanon. We are similar in our way of life, our way of thinking and our vision for the future. Consequently, this has been a convenient post for me since I do not think that I am a foreigner here because I feel at home. So, the silver lining is that we are much more similar than different.
Thank you for your time!