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Conclusion of EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on Lebanon

The European Union Foreign Affairs Council issued the following statement concerning Lebanon:

1. The EU welcomes the election of President Michel Aoun on 31st October 2016 and the formation of a government of national accord under Saad Hariri's leadership on 18th December 2016, putting an end to the long-lasting deadlock of the political institutions. The EU pays tribute to outgoing Prime Minister Tammam Salam for his leadership under difficult circumstances.

2. The EU takes note of the Government Declaration and welcomes its ambition to 'restore trust'. On this note, it calls on Lebanon to hold timely legislative elections in 2017 and ensure a smooth and transparent process, to uphold Lebanon's longstanding democratic tradition. The EU stands ready to provide support to this process.

3. The EU welcomes the determination of all Lebanese political actors to continue working with the same constructive spirit and in an atmosphere of national unity. This is crucial for Lebanon's ability to ensure the proper functioning of all democratic institutions and address the various political, security, social and economic challenges the country faces, heavily impacted by the Syria conflict. Lebanon's freedom and diversity is a model for the whole region and in line with our common values and should be protected.

4. The EU reaffirms its commitment to the unity, sovereignty, stability, independence and territorial integrity of Lebanon. It reiterates the importance of an ongoing commitment to a policy of disassociation from all regional conflicts, in line with the Baabda Declaration.

5. The EU also stresses the importance of Lebanon's continued commitment to the full implementation of its international obligations, including United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 1559, 1680, 1701, 1757. The EU commends the role of the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL in maintaining peace and stability in South Lebanon. The EU reaffirms its support to UNIFIL, to which several Member States are making significant contributions. The EU continues to support the work of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag.

6. The EU fully supports the efforts of the Lebanese authorities and security institutions in their fight against terrorism and the prevention of radicalisation and welcomes the ongoing cooperation with the EU and is determined to continue and reinforce it. The EU remains committed to support the Lebanese Armed Forces.

7. The EU-Lebanon partnership priorities and compact adopted on 11th November 2016, establish a solid framework for EU-Lebanon relations and for the EU's continued support to Lebanon. The EU welcomes the new Government's confirmation of its partnership with the European Union The EU is committed to support Lebanon in addressing the challenges for the stability of the country, in fostering sustainable and inclusive economic growth including the development of energy and infrastructure sectors, and in implementing the country's urgent reforms and development plans. The EU is encouraged by the commitment of Lebanon's new leadership to strengthen the rule of law, including the fight against corruption, good governance and the increased participation of women and youth.

8. The EU commends Lebanon's extraordinary efforts in continuing to host more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees until conditions for their return are met. Tribute should be paid to host communities. The EU is fully delivering on its commitment made at the London Conference of February 2016 and looks forward to continuing its cooperation with the new Government to ensure progress on improving the situation of refugees, their rights and protection, and vulnerable host communities in line with Lebanon's commitments under the EU-Lebanon Compact and London Statement of Intent. The EU also commends Lebanon for its support to Palestinian refugees, including those who recently fled Syria.

9. The EU is determined to continue its support to Lebanon and calls upon the regional partners and international community to strengthen the support to the new Lebanese authorities.

Source: National News Agency