The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received this afternoon at the Grand Serail the ambassadors of the European Union member states and the Head of the EU delegation to Lebanon ambassador Christina Lassen.
At the beginning of the meeting, Hariri welcomed the fact that this meeting is held on a regular basis, especially that it is devoted to discuss various topics of interest to Lebanon. He renewed Lebanon's commitment to implement all the items it pledged during the CEDRE conference, to reduce the deficit, implement reforms or fight corruption.
He said: We are moving in the right direction, but it takes time because what we are doing is not easy at all. Lebanon is facing great economic pressures and challenges in light of the great events taking place in the region around us. But despite all the difficulties, we were able to approve the 2019 budget in the Council of Ministers as a first positive step and it will be approved by Parliament next week. We also approved the electricity plan and started implementing it. We are seeking, in cooperation with Parliament, to approve all the laws that guarantee transparency in the implementation of the CEDRE decisions, and which will be comfort the donors and investors regarding the proposed projects, especially in the CEDRE Plan. The digital government is also being worked on.
Hariri said that cooperation between him, the Speaker and the President continues, to improve the economic situation. He hoped to start studying the 2020 budget by the end of August, adding we know that what we are doing is not enough, but we will continue to work.
On the issue of displaced, Hariri said: Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, Lebanon hosted a large number of displaced people that exceeded its capacity, but this reality soon appeared to be a factor of pressure on the economy and led to tensions between them and the host communities, especially that the money sent by your countries to support Lebanon in hosting them is still insufficient. Lebanon has treated and is still treating the displaced Syrians with humanity and has not forced any of them to return to his country.
He continued: The incidents that Lebanon witnessed last week are regrettable, of course, but Lebanon is a country that has its specificity. Today, I am working in cooperation with Presidents Berri and Aoun to alleviate the escalation, and I hope that things will return to normal starting next week. But the important thing is to focus on improving the economic situation and to follow up on what is going on around us in light of the talk about the deal of the century, and settling the Palestinians in Lebanon, which cannot happen in a country such as Lebanon, which has a specificity.
Hariri concluded: What happened last year at the CEDRE Conference is a partnership between us and the international community and we will work on strengthening it. Lebanon will do all that is necessary to fulfill its commitments to the international community and to reassure the donor countries.
For its part, the EU delegation to Lebanon issued a about the meeting. It said: The Ambassadors of the European Union and EU Member States were received today by H.E. Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The ambassadors and the Prime Minister exchanged views on the political and economic situation as well as EU-Lebanon relations. The ambassadors reaffirmed the strong and enduring partnership between the European Union and Lebanon and Europe's concern for the security and stability of the country. They expressed hope that recent political disagreements can be overcome at the soonest in order to continue the Government's important agenda. They further emphasized the need to continue with the implementation of agreed fiscal and structural reforms, notably the context of following up to the CEDRE conference, and with a view to jointly supporting Lebanon's stability and prosperity. The ambassadors also raised the current situation of refugees in Lebanon.
Source: National News Agency