NNA - Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdullah Bou Habib, asserted that the Lebanese position in the “Supporting Syria and the Region” conference, which will be held in Brussels on the ninth and tenth of May, will be based on the directives of the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, that Lebanon can no longer tolerate the Syrian exodus on its lands.
“Lebanon does not want help the displaced on its lands. We will take care of ourselves if the displaced Syrians return to their country” Minister Bou Habib said.
The Foreign Minister also stressed that “We will implement the cabinet decision that was taken in the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab in this context, and we want to cooperate with the United Nations, but we must take into account our interest, not that they dictate our interest”.
Minister Bou Habib’s words came while the President chaired a meeting this morning at Baabda Palace, attended by Minister Bou Habib, Minister of Social Affairs Hector El Hajjar and representatives of the government's presidency, Ambassador Boutros Assaker and Mr. Ziad Mikati.
Minister Salim Jreissati, General Director of the Presidency of the Republic, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and advisors Raymond Tarabay and Osama Khashab also attended the meeting.
The meeting was devoted to discuss the Lebanese position that will be communicated during the Brussels Conference, which will be held with the participation of representatives of governments, international and regional organizations and civil society organizations.
After the meeting, Minister Bou Habib made the following statement:
“We discussed with the President Lebanon’s participation in the Sixth Brussels Conference, which will be held next Monday and Tuesday to help the displaced Syrians in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
The meetings will be on Monday in the form of seminars and the Minister of Social Affairs will participate in them. On Tuesday, the general meeting will be held and I will be present in it. The European Union and the United Nations are calling for this conference, but due to the disagreement between the two parties because the European Union objected to Russia’s invitation, the United Nations refused to participate in it.
We took the President‘s directives, regarding the Lebanese position, which is that Lebanon can no longer tolerate the Syrian displacement on its lands. We take care of ourselves if the displaced Syrians return to their country. I think that most of the Syrians who go to Syria and return take hard currencies with them, because the Lebanese pound there is a hard currency, these people work and move between the two countries and they should not be here.
We will implement the decision of the Council of Ministers which was taken in the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab in this context. We implement it without cooperating with the United Nations? We no longer want anyone to dictate anything to us. This is the Lebanese position in Brussels”.
Questions & Answers:
Question: Is there an understanding with the Syrian government, especially since the international community was not cooperating with Lebanon in the past in this regard?
Answer: “There is no understanding with the Syrians, but one of their duties is to take people from their country, and there are many Syrians who go to Syria and take money with them because in Syria it is not possible to use the dollar or the Lebanese pound, and the large part of the hard currency goes from Lebanon to there.
This is legal and we do not say it is illegal. We know that the international community, and who is the international community is not Africa, but Europe and the United States, we know that these do not want refugees to migrate to their countries. We are no longer able to prevent them from migrating at sea. We do not have this possibility, so what happened a week ago? We cannot take on a responsibility of this kind again. Will they help us compensate people? We asked the international community last week to give us mechanisms that can go down in the sea to a depth of four hundred meters, and so far we have not received an answer. Does the international community care about Lebanon’s interest? No, Lebanon’s interest concerns the Lebanese, not the international community, which cares about its own interest, and the same applies to Europeans who care about their own interest, as it is more important than Lebanon’s”.
Question: Do you expect any reaction from the international community, and secondly, what do you think of Turkey’s initiative to return about a million Syrians to their country, and can Lebanon not follow Turkey’s example?
Answer: “Lebanon cannot do what Turkey is doing, especially since the latter occupies Syrian lands on which it can build houses. Lebanon cannot do that. Syria does not accept, just as Lebanon does not occupy Syrian territory, and it does not have this kind of hostile relations to some extent with Syria”.
Lebanese Ambassador to UAE:
The President met Lebanon’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Fouad Dandan, today at Baabda Palace.
Ambassador Dandan briefed President Aoun on the preparations made by the Lebanese Embassy in the UAE to hold the parliamentary elections next Sunday in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, especially since the UAE is the Arab country in which the largest number of voters registered around 25,000 voters.
Moreover, Ambassador Dandan briefed President Aoun on the situation of the Lebanese community in the UAE, in addition to other issues dealing with Lebanese-Emirati relations.
Dandan also presented the communications that accompanied the release of Dr. Richard Kharrat after his arrest in the UAE, where the President praised his efforts and follow-up of Dr. Kharrat’s case since his arrest until his release.
The President met Dr. Richard Kharrat, and a delegation from his family.
Dr. Kharrat thanked President Aoun for his interest in addressing the issue of his arrest in the United Arab Emirates on March 30, and the efforts he made to secure his release and return to Lebanon on April 29.
Fitr Feast Congratulations:
President Aoun received additional Eid al-Fitr congratulations.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stated:
“On the occasion of the blessed Eid al-Fitr, I am pleased to extend to you, on behalf of Algeria, its people and government, and on my own behalf, my warmest congratulations and most sincere fraternal wishes, asking God Almighty to repeat this feast with good health and wellness, and to your brotherly people with more progress and prosperity, and to our Arab and Islamic nation with general good and security and stability.
I pray to the God Almighty to accept the fasting and prayers of the blessed month of Ramadan, and to unite our Arab and Islamic nation after uniting our hearts with faith in God and His Noble Messenger.
I also take this opportunity to renew our keenness on our brotherly relations, and our constant readiness to strengthen them in the service of our two brotherly peoples. Please, Mr. President, and my dear brother, accept my sincere expressions of appreciation and respect”.
Kuwaiti Prince, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah stated:
“I would like to extend to you my sincere congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr, asking God Almighty to repeat this feast to the Arab and Islamic nations with goodness and blessings, and to achieve more progress, development and growth for the Lebanese Republic and its brotherly people, and to perpetuate your Excellency with good health and wellness”.
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Kuwaiti Crown Prince Mishaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also sent Fitr congratulatory cables.—Presidency Press Office