BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has called on Christians in the Middle East not to rely on the West amid increasing threats and attacks against the religious community in Egypt and Syria.
“The most appropriate solution today is not [seeking] the West’s protection for Christians in the Middle East ... but the right thing [to do] is to motivate Christians in the Middle East to assume responsibility and play political roles to establish a political weight,” Geagea said in an interview to published by Egypt’s Rose El Youssef magazine Saturday.
“We have to realize that the 21st century is not an era of protection like in the Middle Ages,” Geagea said, claiming Washington and Europe were being silent over the burning of churches in Egypt.
“This is why Middle East Christians need to depend on themselves and on each other,” he said, while urging the sect to engage in social and political life in order to overcome this crucial period.
Nevertheless, Geagea was upbeat about the future.
“Moderation, not extremism, will dominate the future,” he said.
“The future is now better, contrary to the belief of some, as Muslims are more inclined toward moderation than extremism,” he said, citing examples in Arab countries.
Turning to Syria, Geagea said he believed there was “no place” for President Bashar Assad in any future Syria.
He said he believed that the much-anticipated Syria peace conference to be held in Geneva would seek to remove Assad and form a transitional government that will enjoy executive powers while stressing the need to abide by a cease-fire resolution.
In the wide-ranging interview, Geagea also commented on Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s initiative to resolve Lebanon’s political crisis.
“How can we negotiate with Hezbollah after [the party] said its weapons are a red line,” Geagea said.
“Negotiate with them over what?” he asked.
Berri proposed a five-day conclave of Dialogue sessions attended by March 8 and March 14 leaders in addition to Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to address divisive issues including the makeup and the policy statement of a new Cabinet, a national defense strategy, means to end Lebanese intervention in Syria and talks on a new electoral law.
Geagea also believed that dialogue was not in the best interest of Hezbollah.
“All Lebanese political parties have intentions to respond to Berri’s initiative, except Hezbollah,” he said.
Geagea said it was too early to discuss plans to run for president.
“We still have eight months,” Geagea said in reference to the expiration of the term of President Michel Sleiman in May 2014.
“We are used to submitting our candidacy eight hours before elections are due,” he said jokingly.