With her 3 and a half years’ role coming to an end, Elizabeth Richard sent a heartwarming message to the Lebanese people, thanking them for their kindness, hospitality, and warmth they showed to the US embassy team.
“It’s been a privilege and an honor to represent the United States in a place where we have such a long and historic and important relationship and interests,” she said in her farewell letter.
She pointed out that the United States has established a diplomatic presence in Lebanon since 1833 and since then the Americans have been on Lebanon’s side “willing and engaged as a partner for the future.”
“We were here to support the founding of the Lebanese American University in 1835 and the American University of Beirut in 1866, and we continue to support their role as beacons to Lebanon and to the entire region.”
She continued saying that freedom of thought and expression, creative and critical thinking, and civic responsibility and leadership are qualities that are needed in this country, especially with Lebanon being at a turning point.
She praised the Lebanese people for coming together from all geographic regions and all sects to demand their rights from their government.
“There is no reason a country this blessed with so many gifts, including incredible human resources, does not have in 2020 a modern waste management system, 24/7 electricity for everyone, a single armed force under the control of the state, and a growing economy.”
Ambassador Richards stated that her country has been with the Lebanese people consistently and they have been active in all Lebanese governates and most municipalities.
According to her, the USA has been helping Lebanese people identify areas of shared concern and working to help them to find solutions.
“This is the time for all Lebanese citizens to address the issues of governance and economy head-on,” she added, stating that the US cannot fix what is not working.
She pointed out that the government of the last few decades is not working and that everyone knows that.
On top of that, also according to her, difficult decisions have been made and everyone should bear the burden. The revolution, in her opinion, is a historic opportunity for the Lebanese people to turn the page.
It is also a chance, she said, to plan a new course for Lebanon to accomplish its full potential “as a modern and flourishing member of the international community.”
Ambassador Richard went on to praise all the Lebanese emigrants who have achieved remarkable things abroad and considers it a testament to the fact that such success is possible in Lebanon too.
“The people of Lebanon are the country’s greatest strength, and we have seen them act in remarkable unity to express legitimate concerns about their future,” she stressed.
She addressed the Lebanese people, saying: “You hold the power to turn these dreams for your country into reality, and the United States stands with you in the pursuit of such a bright future.”
According to ambassador Richards, her replacement, Dorothy Shea, is an outstanding representative of the United States and a friend to Lebanon.
She also believes that with the help of the Lebanese people, the new ambassador will be able to carry on working and nurturing the ties between Lebanon and the USA.
“With that, thank you very, very much. I bid farewell to all of you. And I look forward to a very, very bright future for Lebanon. Thank you,” she concluded.