In Beirut for a one-day visit, Federica Mogherini met with Lebanon's political leaders and visited the Bar Elias refugee camp in the Bekaa. The aim of the visit was to further develop the strong EU-Lebanon ties and to discuss common challenges such as the Syria crisis, protecting and housing refugees and the fight against terrorism.
Speaking at a press conference following her meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam, EU High Representative Mogherini told the press: “We have a strong partnership and a long friendship and we both are working hard in these very difficult times for our region. I say our region because we share the region, starting from the security situation, the threats that are posed to Lebanon but also to all of the Mediterranean and Europe.”
Mogherini went on: “We discussed the political support the European Union can give to the functioning of the state institutions in difficult times, the need to elect the President, the need to have a working Parliament, the need to coordinate well the work of the Council of Ministers and also heading to local elections soon, to strengthen the resilience of the country in these difficult times and of the Lebanese people that are living in very difficult times from all point of views.”
The HRVP and the Prime Minister also discussed the regional challenges that are shared: “we exchanged views on the perspectives of the talks in Geneva, the need to build a process that can allow Syria to get out of the civil war and find humanitarian assistance for the Syrian population inside the country, the cessations of hostilities, consolidating Syria from inside and a political transition that can consolidate the political track that is happening in Geneva. And we know that we can partner with Lebanon in this respect.
We discussed about how we can help each other in managing the immense refugee crisis we are both facing. We have agreed from the European Union's side to increase the support to Lebanon that has been significant so far, around 1.5 billions".
In a separate press conference with Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Mogherini highlighted: "we are not neighbours only, we are living in the same environment… and I am particularly glad that the minister came and visited us in Brussels at the Foreign Affairs Council.
She went on to outline the shared belief of the EU and Lebanon that diversity is a point of strength in societies; that together the EU and Lebanon are working for peace in Syria, and that both have a vital interest in the continuation, consolidation and expansion of the cessation of hostilities. She emphasized: "we are together in managing one of the worst, if not the worst humanitarian crisis related to the refugee flows from Syria.”
The HRVP also highlighted the common interest of the EU and Lebanon in having effective counter-terrorism activities and dialogues in the region, and the expanded region. The EU, she said, is ready to I case the support to the Lebanese Armed Forces.
The shared efforts of the EU and Lebanon on the Middle East Peace Process, Quartet and recommendations for the future of two state solution were also noted.
Visiting Syrian refugees in the Bar Elias camp in the Bekaa valley Mogherini met Syrian refugees: "we often talk of numbers, but they people escaping from war"m she said.
During her visit to Lebanon Mogherini also met with representatives of the UN in Lebanon: UNIFIL Commander Major-General Luciano Portolano and United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag and with the Speaker of Lebanon's Parliament, Nabih Berri.
Tomorrow the HRVP will be in Jordan to meet, among other, His Majesty King Abdullah II and the Foreign minister Nasser Judeh. She will also visit Zaatari refugee camp, 15 km from the Syrian border.
Managing the refugee crisis – EU support for Lebanon