The country’s public and private economic and service sectors have actually started crumbling one after the other. Among these sectors the diplomatic corps, where a wide range of employees are requesting early retirement or leave without pay.
This reality is likely to expand with the exacerbation of the crisis in the state budget, according to diplomatic sources. Any upsurge in the number of employees leaving the corps will lead to a real threat to the diplomatic work, while Lebanon is in dire need for external connections and for diplomatic channels with countries on the political and economic levels.
Those who submitted their applications for early retirement are considered competencies with a long expertise. This reality is added to the weakness that the corps suffers mainly from as a result of the paralysis of the state’s work and the difficulties of making political decisions, and the need to reactivate the position that Lebanon is supposed to take regarding the entitlements in the region which is related to Arab and international issues.
Therefore, it is crucial to strengthen the corps and keep it away from the crisis, because the diplomatic corps is the main contributor in conveying Lebanon’s image abroad, and it will contribute in any talks that would help Lebanon in the next stage.
The requests submitted by the diplomats for this purpose were numerous, and the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense sent an administrative memorandum to inform the diplomats that future diplomatic formations will not include early retirement, temporary placement outside the corps, or a request for leave without pay.
Minister Akar is not threatening them in this decision, but rather reminding them of the law only to protect their interests. Information revealed that Akar is considering setting an austerity budget after collecting information about the number of missions, diplomats, and administrative staff, with reference to the delay in sending money and costs for missions, but so far the Central Bank of Lebanon has not taken any step towards stopping payments.
The sources fear that the deteriorating situation in the absence of funds will make the diplomatic representation similar to the diplomatic representation of poor and destitute countries. Lebanon would terminate about 40 percent of its diplomatic missions to reduce costs if the current situation continues, and if the country continues without a government and crises exacerbates. The state is obliged to find a way to determine representation on priorities in interests.
It is crucial to preserve the human resources of the corps, as sources indicate that Lebanon’s international relations depend mainly on the officials’ good behavior and on avoiding words that would harm these relations, and it is not an issue of embassies and diplomats.
The sources emphasized that it does not appear in the near future that diplomatic formations will take place, even if a government is formed, because this will add financial burdens on the state.
It is noteworthy that the diplomats who have requested early retirement or temporary placement are the most efficient and have signed contracts to work with international organizations and in the private sector abroad.