The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri described his meetings with Arab and European leaders as useful and successful, stressing that these leaders renewed their commitment to the CEDRE Conference and their support for Lebanon.
Hariri concluded the meetings he held on the sidelines of the EU- Arab League Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh by meeting with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, in the presence of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil, the Minister of Industry Wael Abu Faour, former Minister Ghattas Khoury and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.
After the meeting, Hariri said: The best for last. The meeting with president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi was distinctive, especially since he organized this conference where dialogue was excellent, as well as the side meetings that took place with some European countries. This is useful for the Arabs. We have relations with the Europeans, but this conference gave an opportunity for frank dialogue and we hope that such conferences will continue because they are very positive.
Question: Did you receive promises for Lebanon in the side meetings you held?
Hariri: All the European leaders I met with reaffirmed their support for the CEDRE Conference and their support for Lebanon. This is what we wanted. Therefore, I consider that all these meetings were successful.
Question: Lebanon is going through a historic phase. What will you do to unify the Lebanese?
Hariri: This government includes all the major Lebanese parties. Lebanon needs large reforms. We agreed on them with everyone and included them in the ministerial statement, and received a very high confidence from parliament, with 111 votes. I rely on all political parties to abide by the reforms that we decided. There are decisions that we will make, they may be difficult, but the difficulty lies in the need to change the way we work.
Question: Is this a challenge facing your government?
Hariri: This challenge is not great. If we explain to people what we are trying to do, and if we are frank with them about the reality of the situation in the country everyone will accept this kind of reform.
Question: The fight against terrorism is one of the topics discussed at the summit. Do you think that this file will be tackled in the next phase?
Hariri: For us, the fight against terrorism is fundamental. Any economy is built on stability and security, and what terrorists are doing is destroy stability and security, to justify their presence through the failure of others. However, the truth is that they destroyed the countries that they hit or controlled. Hence, the fight against terrorism is at several levels, part of it is security and another part requires us to develop ourselves and the economy of our country and cooperate with each other to improve the life of the Arab citizen, which is the basis.
I believe that this is what President Sisi is focusing on in the first place. When I visited Egypt today, I found it different from what it was two or three years ago, and this is something to be proud of, which we will also do in Lebanon.
The security cooperation between Lebanon and Egypt is very large, whether in terms of intelligence or information or the fight against terrorism. These things exist and will continue hopefully.
Question: How do you evaluate the issues raised during this summit?
Hariri: I found them very important, and I believe that dialogue is the only way to deal with matters. I consider that the meeting that took place today between the Arabs and the Europeans is important. Some are concerned with speeches but I consider that the most important were the side meetings between the Arab countries and the European side, and this is what allows the relationship between us to progress. I think that Arabs and Europeans can be a very powerful economic force if we can agree on the basic points and the things we have to do in the Arab countries, as well as the Europeans on their part.
Question: How do you see Lebanon in the coming period after the formation of the government?
Hariri: You have to visit Lebanon to see how it has become.
In an interview with the Egyptian DMC channel, Prime Minister Hariri said in response to a question: We count on the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to always stand by Lebanon in the next stage.
Question: Is separating politics from economy possible?
Hariri: Yes, politics does not feed people, but economy achieves this. If we agree on an economic policy, this is the most important thing for us. Political differences will remain, and it is important they do not affect the economic situation.
Question: What is your position after Britain put a ban on Hezbollah?
Hariri: Britain had already placed Hezbollah's military wing on the terrorism list, and now it may have added the political wing. This concerns Britain and not Lebanon, and what matters to us is that it does not affect our relationship. We hope that they will look at Lebanon as a country and a people. Therefore, we must build the best relations with all. This is fundamental for Lebanon's future and its interest.
Question: How will you deal with the Syrian refugees in the next stage?
Hariri: As we are dealing with them today, with all humanity and affection. We consider, like all the Arab and European countries, that the return of all the displaced to Syria must be safe. This is important for us and there are many discussions taking place and hopefully we will reach solutions.
Source: National News Agency