Submission Date and Time: Wed 21 January 2004 13:24:00
By: The FLPM Sweden


A member of the Swedish Parliament from the Moderate Party (a right winged party that is the main opposition party in Sweden), Nils Oskar Nilsson, had an interpellation on the issue of a "Free Lebanon – Does Sweden aim to act to end the Syrian occupation of Lebanon" in a meeting held in the Swedish Parliament on January 20.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Leila Freivalds, opened the discussion by declaring that Sweden and the EU consider that Lebanon is a free nation. She admitted though that the Syrian presence in the country is a problem of a big significance. However, she remarked that the Taef agreement made that Lebanon entered into a pact with Syria. That means that the Syrian presence in Lebanon is sanctioned and cannot be counted as occupation. She said that she realizes that many Lebanese groups demand the withdrawal of the Syrians from Lebanon. Sweden supports though the decreasing of the Syrian presence in the country and the efforts for increasing democracy there. She pointed out that it is extremely important to achieve peace in Lebanon if democracy is to be increased there. The country is still facing huge problems; one of the most important is the fact that Lebanon has hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

Mr. Nilsson emphasized that the Syrian presence in Lebanon is nothing but a regular occupation. He remarked that the situation in Lebanon was very chaotic in 1989-1990, the country was ravaged. General Michel Aoun, the legitimate prime minister, was forced in exile. Syria had an excuse and an opportunity to spread its army in Lebanon and get the blessing of the non-legitimate government that replaced General Aoun. This presence was meant to end after two years. Today, almost 14 years later, there still are 15 to 16 thousand Syrian soldiers left in the country. When the USA exposes Syria to strain and demand that the Lebanese sovereignty will be restored, can we consider that as anything else but occupation? Mr. Nilsson reminded even the Minister of Foreign Affairs that the Syrian Secret Service operates independently and ruthlessly in Lebanon, without the knowledge of the Lebanese establishment. Lebanese citizens get arrested and deported to Syria without any intervention from the Lebanese authorities.

Mrs. Freivalds answered by speaking about an association agreement that is under negotiation between Syria and the EU. This will make an increase of the EU’s surveillance of Syria’s act in general and in Lebanon in particle. She added that she wasn’t only speaking about economical and trade acts but even acts related to democracy and human rights.

Mr. Nilsson pointed that many domestic Lebanese wants to see a soon end of the occupation. Some others don’t due to own interest. However, many Lebanese in Sweden are looking forward to an official Swedish intervention that aims to end Syria’s occupation of Lebanon. He also gave an account of a phone call that he had with General Aoun the previous day where the General assured that a majority in the French Parliament demands that the UN Resolution 520 should be accomplished so Lebanon regains his sovereignty. Mr. Nilsson wondered why Sweden doesn’t act while France does. That should serve as a starting point for Sweden to act for Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon, he said. The country has many problems, among others the Syrian military and political presence there. Mr. Nilsson rounded of by saying that Sweden must put the words in action and make Syria leave Lebanon.

The Free Lebanese Patriotic Movement in Sweden had a meeting with Parliament member Nilsson Monday, January 19, and discussed the actual situation in Lebanon. The meeting was a step in the cooperation between Parliament Member Nilsson and the FLPM Sweden that aims to make the Swedish authorities take part in the struggle for a free Lebanon. During the meeting the interpellation "Free Lebanon – Does Sweden aim to act to end the Syrian occupation of Lebanon" was discussed and a phone call to General Aoun was made to discuss the current situation in Lebanon. FLPM Sweden thanked Mr. Nilsson for his efforts to restore the Lebanese sovereignty by giving him the Lebanese Flag as a gift.