Beirut, 18 September 2012 (ESCWA Communication and Information Unit) –UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCWA Rima Khalaf today said that full Arab integration, which takes into account its economic, social and cultural dimensions, can no longer remain a purely intellectual luxury. Rather, it is a strategic choice and a fundamental prerequisite of an Arab renaissance, which can provide security and welfare for people, and prosperity and invincibility for countries. Khalaf was speaking at an official ceremony held in front of the UN House in Beirut, to welcome Libya, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Tunisia to full membership of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
The ESCWA Guards of Honor rose the flags of the three countries on the three national anthems performed by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces Orchestra. The ceremony was attended by Ambassador Wafiq Rahimi, representing the Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador of Tunisia to Lebanon Fwazi Ballout, Libya’s representative, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Planning Ali Ahmad Al Saleh, Ambassador of Morocco to Lebanon Ali Omlil, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly. The Arab and foreign diplomatic corps, representatives of UN missions operating in Lebanon, as well as ESCWA staff also attended this event.
In her statement, Khalaf said: “Joining the Commission will not only have a positive impact on Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, but also on the other countries of the region and on the competence of the Commission itself. It will not only strengthen our capacity to harmonize our goals and programmes with the priorities of the region, and improve our policy responses to its needs, but will also bring us closer in line with other regional organizations, in particular the League of Arab States and its specialized agencies, and the operating offices of United Nations agencies in member countries. All that will give ESCWA an enhanced role as a source of new knowledge, a hub for shared expertise, and a vital link between the regional and international levels”.
After having raised the flag of Tunisia, Ambassador Ballout said, “we wish all success to the mission organized by ESCWA to Tunisia with the objective of exploring, with the local parties concerned, the possibility of elaborating a technical cooperation programme to enable our country to establish an investment plan for the least developed regions.”
He added, “I would like to confirm the strong will of Tunisia to spare no effort towards reinforcing the cooperation with ESCWA in order to support the national development efforts at this critical time of the history of our country. This will no doubt strengthen the process of economic integration between our member countries.”
Then, Libyan representative Ali Ahmad Al Saleh said after his country’s flag was risen, “I highly value the resolution of the ECOSOC endorsing the membership of Libya in ESCWA. Libya today is paving the road for the future towards the achievement of the economic and social development, creating a new economy and realizing the sustainable development and the well-being for present and future generations. Libya has been isolated from the international community for the last four decades. However it becomes today an active and strong member contributing effectively to the integration of member countries in order to enhance cooperation prospects in the various fields related to economic and social development.”
Finally, Ambassador Omlil spoke after the Guards of Honor raised the Moroccan flag, saying, “by joining this prominent Commission, my country will no doubt benefit from its programmes and expertise as well as from the proficiency of ESCWA staff in the fields of economic, social and human development. Morocco will also offer its comprehensive experience in development as led by His Majesty the King Mohammed VI in the following fields: the field of human development through launching the national initiative for human development; the field of renewable energy production through the adoption of the largest project in the region; the field of water supplies and conservation of the environment; the field of comprehensive health coverage to reach the deprived and workers with limited income; the field of infrastructure to bring electricity and water to remote and rural areas; the field of education through the radical reform of the educational system and enabling all citizens to enroll in schools; and the field of judicial reforms and through the reforms and restructuring that my country has witnessed and is still witnessing.”
The UN Economic and Social Council had approved the requests received from Libya, Morocco and Tunisia for admission as members of ESCWA during its last session held in New York in July 2012.