Mikati: I will call on Europe to help Lebanon deal with the refugee issue with the Syrian government
In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, published on Monday, Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati demanded that Europe help Lebanon address the issue of displaced Syrians on its territory with the Syrian government.
Le Figaro newspaper conducted an interview with the Lebanese caretaker government, Najib Mikati, to find out his positions on the most prominent issues of concern to Lebanon before he heads to participate in the work of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Mikati made statements to the newspaper that focused on the economic situation the country is suffering from, the presidential elections, the issue of the displaced, and the demarcation of the borders with Israel.
Mikati held the Lebanese state primarily responsible for the economic collapse in Lebanon, also pointing to “the culture of corruption and waste in public office and the absence of reforms.” He gave an example of the state spending a total of $45 billion to subsidize electricity, considering that this behavior was irresponsible.
Mikati called on MPs to “demonstrate financial responsibility and approve the budget” that his government adopted on September 12. He stressed the need to begin deep reform.
He believed that “once the (reform) laws are passed and the agreement is signed with the International Monetary Fund, confidence in Lebanon will gradually return, and the country will become a financial center again.” He added: “It is possible to reactivate the $11 billion aid package, which was negotiated at the CEDRE conference in Paris, which reassures investors and urges them to reconsider the opportunities available in Lebanon. “They will then find a country where entrepreneurs are willing to cooperate and have already begun to improve the situation.”
Mikati said, “Lebanon has all the necessary means for its advancement, and it is up to its political class to allow this.” The state exists and can work well.” He pointed out that since the departure of President Michel Aoun (after the end of his term last year), Mikati has signed no less than 1,400 decrees.
He expressed his confidence in the Lebanese because they are “educated, brilliant, and capable of competing nationally and internationally.”
Regarding the message that he will deliver in the United Nations General Assembly, he said that he will ask the international community and donor countries to help Lebanon on several levels. First, world powers will be asked to use their influence to persuade the various Lebanese movements to elect a president.
He believes that “the president must be accepted by all parties, put himself above the fray and act as an arbiter.” But the president must also have the vision, leadership, and community spirit, to be able to work closely with the government to solve problems and build the nation.”
Regarding whether he supports the election of presidential candidate Suleiman Franjieh, who is supported by Hezbollah and close to the Iranian and Syrian regimes, he said, “It is illogical to elect a president who is hostile to Hezbollah…” On the other hand, he pointed out that Hezbollah’s paramilitary and security agencies, linked to their regional role, have gradually become a subject of polarization, even division, and a source of fear for many Lebanese.
Mikati explained that he would also ask the international community to support Lebanon in confronting the migration crisis. He said: “We are already hosting more than a million Syrian refugees, and hundreds of additional displaced people are arriving in Lebanon every day and upsetting the country’s economic, demographic and sectarian balance. They say they come to Lebanon to cross to Europe, so Europe must help us deal with this issue with the Syrian government.”
He criticized the role of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in receiving refugees in Lebanon, saying: “The reception of displaced people in Lebanon, provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has a defect in that it constitutes a strong financial incentive for illegal immigration, without addressing the problem from Its source.
He added: “The Commission should negotiate directly with the Syrian authorities. The Europeans have a great interest in helping us deal with this problem, given the sharp increase in human trafficking to Cyprus and other destinations. “The threat of a new invasion of migrants in Europe is real, which also carries with it a security imperative.”
Regarding the file of demarcating the land borders with Israel, Mikati called on the United Nations to help reach a solution to the problem of border disputes, which would enhance security in southern Lebanon and gradually withdraw UNIFIL soldiers, which were originally “temporary,” but have in fact existed since 1978.
When asked why Lebanon did not recognize the State of Israel while a number of Arab countries signed a peace agreement with it, Mikati said that he was open to a discussion based on the foundations of the peace initiative that the Arab countries collectively proposed in 2002. He added: “I am a practical man and we need peace and stability.” and prosperity in the region. I am ready to consider peace initiatives that would enable Lebanon to develop and preserve our noble causes and legitimate rights, while respecting Security Council resolutions, of course.”