Accepted paper:

Ambassador of Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic to Lebanon in the wake of civil war

Author:

Petr Skalník (University of Hradec Králové)

Paper short abstract:

After the end of civil war (1975-1990) Lebanon was seeking new legitimacy as a normal country by encouraging as many countries as possible to appoint ambassadors resident in Beirut. Czechoslovakia decided to comply with this expectation at the moment when it as a state was on the brink of disintegration. The Czech Republic as a successor state had also to make itself visible and known in a country that until then knew only Czechoslovakia. The paper discusses the ways of mutual legitimization through diplomacy.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will address the problem of starting from scratch of diplomatic relations and embassy as a functioning office at the moment both were practically paralyzed during the latest phases of Lebanese civil war. By coincidence this reconstruction took place when Czechoslovakia first got rid of communist rule in 1989 but soon faced division into two states, namely the Czech Republic and Slovakia. When I was made ambassador in summer 1992, the Czechoslovak president Václav Havel resigned and I was leaving for Lebanon amid worries about the future of my country. As a matter of fact I served as ambassador of two countries (Czechoslovakia asnd the Czech Republic) while Lebanon was slowly recovering from the scars of civil war. To revive the Czech-Lebanese relations required double effort as the Czech Republic was a new state and needed badly friends around the world. The paper describes various methods used by me as ambassador in supporting the quest of post-war Lebanon to be fully accepted as a normal state even though its dependence on Syria was evident and southernmost part of the country was occupied by Israel and pro-Israel militia. On the other hand economic and cultural exchanges were used for promoting the new Czech Republic in Lebanon. My anthropological knowledge and experience from South Africa proved indispensable for the successful negotiation of the main task: to bring mutual relations to a normal footing.

panel P01
Anthropology, diplomacy and politics