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Körber Network Foreign Policy – Syria and Lebanon

September 17-22, 2009

The participants from various German ministries, from the German Parliament, from selected embassies and think tanks and from the Secretariat of the Council of the European Union held talks with high-ranking representatives of the Syrian and Lebanese governments, well-known scholars and journalists, religious leaders and representatives of international organizations. The talks centred on the foreign and security policy challenges facing Syria and Lebanon, and current internal political developments in the two countries.

During the two-day visit to Damascus the group was received by H.E. Walid Al-Muallem, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic, H. Em. Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, Grand Mufti of Syria, H. Em. Patriarch Gregorius III Laham, Greek Melkite Patriarch, Haitham Sataihi, Head of Foreign Relations Bureau, Baath Party, and Dr. Riad Daoudi, Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, the participants had the opportunity to talk to H. E. Dr. Andreas Reinicke, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Syria, about bilateral relations between Germany and Syria. The programme in Damascus also included meetings with Dr. Samir Al-Taqi, director of the Orient Center for International Studies (OCIS), and with Peter Harling, Iraq-Syria-Lebanon Project Director of the International Crisis Group.

The visit to Lebanon began with a briefing by Michael Ohnmacht, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Lebanon, and a conversation with Dr. Michael C. Williams, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon. The talks with H. E. Saad Hariri, Prime Minister of the Republic of Lebanon, with General Michel Aoun, MP, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), and with representatives of the Consultative Center for Studies and Documentation (CCSD) centred on internal political developments in Lebanon after the recent formation of a government of national unity. A meeting with Walid Jumblatt, chairman of the Progressive Socialist Party, was primarily devoted to talking about the current balance of power between the various religious groups in Lebanon.

he participants were given some idea of the current challenges facing Lebanese policymaking by means of background briefings and by visits to various places of interest. Thus on a visit to the Shatila refugeee camp the group was able to form an impression of the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. On a tour along the so-called “Blue Line,” the demarcation line between Israel and Lebanon, representatives of the UNIFIL mission provided the participants with information about the current situation in southern Lebanon.

The Körber Foundation organizes annual field trips to focal points of German and European foreign policy within the framework of the Körber Network Foreign Policy.

In 2008 the Körber Network Foreign Policy travelled on a field trip to Ukraine, whereas in 2007 it visited Iran.

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