As the last Syrian forces left Lebanon after a 29-year presence, senior Lebanese political figures said it was important for their country to maintain good relations with its much larger Arab neighbour.
Najib Mikati said a new political era was beginning
Here is a selection of their comments:
NAJIB MIKATI, PRIME MINISTER
"With the completion of the Syrian forces' withdrawal from Lebanon, a new political era in the relations between the two brethren countries starts, based on close co-operation in all
fields. The relationship between Lebanon and Syria is deep and should not be looked at from security and military perspectives only. We should continue to work on enhancing it in the various fields."
NAYLA MOUAWAD, CHRISTIAN MARONITE OPPOSITION MP
"I think this is a historic day for Lebanon. It ends a long
period full of mistakes and hegemony. The withdrawal met the
opposition's demands and leads the way for new balanced
relations with Syria."
AMIN GEMAYEL, FORMER PRESIDENT
"Syria had enough time to infiltrate all the national
institutions in Lebanon. Syria controls the presidency, the
parliament and the government and all the other institutions and
political parties. Syria was creating a creeping annexation
policy and it won't be very easy to get rid of the consequences
of this hegemony.
"We need time to rebuild all those institutions
and for the Lebanese society to breath normally again and
reverse the brainwashing. At the same time, it will be very
important to rebuild the best of relations with Syria."
WALID EIDO, SUNNI MUSLIM OPPOSITION MP
"The Syrian presence did not help improve ties between the
two countries, on the contrary it was a reason for a sour
climate. We seize this opportunity to stress that we are
committed to maintaining the best relations with Syria, it is
our Arab gate. We call on Syria not to consider its withdrawal
as a defeat, but as a step to rectify existing circumstances."
PIERRE GEMAYEL, CHRISTIAN MARONITE OPPOSITION MP
"We consider this a first step towards regaining Lebanon's
full and real sovereignty. We look forward to the emergence of
the true unity between the Lebanese and to building the real
Lebanon which existed before the war."
ASSEM KANSO, HEAD OF THE PRO-SYRIAN LEBANESE BAATH PARTY
"The Syrian army is still on our side and is ready to sacrifice and help whenever
we ask for it in any struggle, just like it did during the past
period to preserve the unity of Lebanon and its internal