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The Acropole Medal Bestowed Upon Fares by the UNESCO Secretary-General Mr. Koichiro Matsuura - March 30, 2001
Lebanon was honored in the highest forum for intellect, heritage, and culture at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in a remarkable ceremony during which the UNESCO Secretary-General Mr. Koichiro Matsuura awarded him the Golden Acropole Medal.

The official ceremony took place in the headquarters of the said organization in presence of Mrs. Hala Issam Fares, Miss Noor Fares, Mr. Nijad Fares the Vice-Chairman of the American Task Force for Lebanon, Ambassador Antoine Jumaa the representative of President of the Republic Mr. Emile Lahoud, MPs Nayla Moawad and Michael Daher, Lebanon’s Ambassador to France Elysee Alam, former Minister Ghassan Tueni, former MP Ahmad Esper, H.E. Gabriel Saliby, Metropolitan of Western and Central Europe, the head of the Consular Corps in Lebanon Joseph Habis, and a great number of diplomatic missions in France, French officials, and Presidents of Lebanese associations and clubs in France.

Mrs. Hala Fares& Miss Noor Fares surround His Excellency and the UNESCO Secretary General

Secretary Mastuura’s SpeechThe UNESCO Secretary-General Mr. Koichiro Matsuura pronounced a speech on the occasion in which he said:

‘It is a great honor for me today to host at the UNESCO the Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon Mr. Issam Fares. Lebanon has close ties with our Organization since a long time. The first general conference was held in Beirut in 1948 outside the headquarters of the Organization, and Lebanon is the only country in which an area located in downtown Beirut is named after the UNESCO in honor of the historic conference held at that time. Mr. Fares, how many educational, social, and cultural institutions have been able to take profit of your generosity for many years? Of course, it is difficult to answer the question because they are numerous. The forty thousand students that were able to complete their studies thanks to your generosity illustrate a great example. Another proof we can also cite are the many educational institutions, such as the Balamand University in North Lebanon, the American University in Beirut, as well as scores of public and private schools, and sports clubs in Akkar. Without the effective aid proffered by your Foundation, these educational goals, which are of major importance to the UNESCO- would have never been attained’.

At the end of the speech, Mr. Matsuura presented to Mr. Fares the Golden Medal of Acropole in appreciation of his relentless educational efforts.

Historic moments for His Excellency, cherishing the Golden Medal of Acropole
Issam Fares Speech ‘It is a great honor for me, in presence of Ambassador Antoine Jumaa the representative of the Lebanese President, to be distinguished by the Director General Mr. Matsuura for this decoration and by the UNESCO which is assigned by the international community to safeguard the various civilizations and enhance their value and characteristics. The UNESCO Golden Medal is a decoration I am proud of, which I shall never forget. The UNESCO has recuperated its distinguished civilized- cultural role under the leadership of its Director General H.E. Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, by taking bold initiatives to preserve national heritage and the identities of all cultural groups in the world.

This is a commitment that deserves appreciation, especially that these groups are endangered. Your Excellency, we follow up with great attention your efforts for the preservation of the historic traces on the illustrious natural sites to secure a world heritage that deserves a new world.

Your Excellency, Lebanon is an effective member of the UNESCO to which it had seriously contributed since its establishment. Indeed, the values adopted by the UNESCO are the same values upon which relies my country Lebanon. We in Lebanon are proud of diversity, overture, the acceptance of the other, and the respect of its heritage and traditions. Like you, we consider these values as the true entry to secure the international peace to which we all aspire.

On this occasion, I would like to affirm that, like you, our Lebanese Government is striving for the introduction of radical reforms to the administration for the sake of the credibility and transparency required by the democratic regimes.

In your word, you have set the goals you are committed to: Education, science, culture, and communications. My country is committed to show cooperation with you to attain these goals on all the national, regional, and international levels in order to promote peace and guarantee a developed and civilized future.

Expressing my deep thanks to Your Excellency for the high esteem you showed me, I hereby affirm my commitment to work with you for the realization of these democratic principles to which both the UNESCO and Lebanon are committed’.

Mr. Fares delivers his allocution: ‘Lebanon is an effective member of the UNESCO to which it had seriously contributed’