The Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has described his meetings with Arab and European leaders on the sidelines of the EU-Arab League Summit as useful and successful, stressing that these leaders renewed their commitment to the CEDRE Conference and their support for Lebanon.
“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,” Hariri told reporters on February 25th after a meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Worldwide donor countries at the CEDRE conference, held in Paris on April 6th last year, pledged more than $11 billion in grants and soft loans to finance investment and infrastructure projects in Lebanon. Lebanon was required to commit to a series of reforms that would contribute to a better implementation of CEDRE.
On unifying the Lebanese, Hariri said: “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.”
Despite Lebanon’s ailing economy and rising unemployment rates, Hariri reasserted that “this challenge is not great” providing reform is implemented.
“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,” he said.
As for combatting terrorism, Hariri said: “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,” Hariri added.
When asked about Lebanon’s policy for dealing with Syrian refugees, which represent over a quarter of the small Levantine country’s population, the prime minister said that preserving the safety of asylum seekers comes first.
“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,” said Hariri, as reported by Lebanon’s National News Agency.