President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri said that Lebanon offers a model of coexistence and dialogue to the region and the world, adding that Lebanon is strongly engaged in fighting terrorism, in all its forms. Hariri was speaking during a joint press conference today with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the chancellery headquarters in Berlin.
Before the meeting, Hariri and Merkel held a joint press conference.
Merkel said: "The election of General Michel Aoun as President and the appointment of Prime Minister Hariri to form a national unity government reflect the diverse interests of the Lebanese people and all the ethnic and religious communities. We are very pleased to see this happening due to the complicated situation in Lebanon.
We shall talk today about the stability and the political situation. Lebanon hosts more than one million Syrian refugees, and you can imagine the sheer dimension of this burden as compared to the size of the state and its population. It shows a great humanitarian spirit and gesture, and I would like to pay my respect to the Lebanese people for hosting this large number of refugees, especially if we look at the fragile and very difficult situation in your country and this represents an enormous task.
We are the second largest donor country to Lebanon, we donated 286 million Euros last year and we are trying to help Lebanon to wither this crisis and we are trying to use this crisis in order to revive the economic dynamics of the region. The main mission is to help the refugees and the hosting populations since they are facing the burden of hosting the Syrian refugees.
We do not want to create an impression that the international community only addresses the interests of the refugees, but also of the host country.
Tomorrow there will be a conference on the future of Syria and the region in Brussels with the participation of the foreign minister. We will continue to support the region and our partners. Tomorrow's conference is a follow up to the conference of 2016 and Germany will be a co-host.
Syria is the largest neighboring country for Lebanon, which is why very few other countries are as directly affected as Lebanon by what is happening on the ground in Syria. This is why obviously we will exchange views on the possibilities to settle the conflict in Syria by political means because we have seen that the military solutions brought suffering and difficulties and didn't help solve the crisis.
We will talk about the relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran and also about the UNIFIL in which we participate since 2006. So we have a lot to discuss. Thank you once again Prime Minister for making it possible that we have this direct exchange. We will continue to keep an eye on Lebanon. We will continue to support the country."
For his part, Prime Minister Hariri said:
"I am happy to be here today in Berlin and I am looking forward to my meeting with Chancellor Merkel where I will be discussing with her the many challenges facing Lebanon and the region.
Today the Lebanese, who are 4 million, are hosting about 1 to 1.2 million Syrian displaced, and around 500,000 Palestinian refugees, and this has created a strain on our economy, our infrastructure and our social fabric. To give you a measure, it is as if the EU was expected to host 250 million refugees, starting tomorrow morning!
By hosting 1.2 million Syrian displaced until their safe return to their country is guaranteed, Lebanon today is providing a public good on behalf of the world. I will be revealing Lebanon's vision for stabilization and development tomorrow at the Brussels conference, which Germany is co-hosting.
I would like also to condemn the terrorist attack that took place in Saint Petersburg and express my condolences to the Russian people. Terrorism is a plague that has no religion and the whole world should work together to eradicate it.
Lebanon is also strongly engaged in fighting terrorism, in all its forms. To do so, the Lebanese security agencies need to be invested in and supported. I will discuss this matter with the Chancellor and explain why the return on such an investment, I can assure, will be worthwhile and guaranteed. I also want to thank Germany for its decade-long commitment to UNIFIL. The men and women of your country are playing a remarkable role in maintaining peace and stability in my country.
Lebanon offers a model of coexistence and dialogue to the region and indeed to the world. It is today an oasis of peace in a volatile region. I will be discussing with Chancellor Merkel how important it is for us that Germany is a key partner in the effort of keeping our country secure and stable.
We share the same values and we need to cooperate closely in order to face the many uncertainties awaiting us."
After that, Prime Minister Hariri and Chancellor Merkel held a meeting about the developments in the region and the bilateral relations. Discussions continued over a lunch held by Merkel held in honor of Hariri, in the presence of Lebanese Ambassador to Gemany Mostafa Adib, Hariri's Chief of Staff Nader Hariri and a number of German officials.
Source: National News Agency