EU Commissioner Várhelyi Meets with Lebanese Leaders in Beirut

EU Commissioner Várhelyi visits Lebanon, discusses aid for Syrian refugees, support for Lebanese army, and EU's commitment to Lebanon amid its political and economic challenges.

Dil Bar Irshad
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EU Commissioner Várhelyi Meets with Lebanese Leaders in Beirut

EU Commissioner Várhelyi Meets with Lebanese Leaders in Beirut

European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi conducted meetings with Lebanese political leaders in Beirut on Monday, April 22, 2024.

Várhelyi met with Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail, accompanied by a delegation that included EU Ambassador to Lebanon Sandra De Waele. Also attending the meeting were Premier Mikati's advisors, former Minister Nicolas Nahas, Ambassador Boutros Assaker, and Ziad Mikati.

During the meeting, Mikati emphasized that the EU should modify its policy concerning assistance for displaced Syrians in Lebanon, and that the aid should be directed towards achieving their return to their country. Mikati thanked the EU for including Lebanon on the agenda of its last meeting and for approving a package of political and financial measures to support Lebanon, which will be announced soon.

He also stressed the urgent need to support the Lebanese army, security institutions, and development and investment projects in Lebanon in the fields of renewable energy, water, and sustainable development.

Várhelyi also met with House Speaker Nabih Berri, where they discussed the general situation in Lebanon and the region. The meeting addressed Israel's continued aggression against Lebanon and Gaza, as well as bilateral relations between Lebanon and the EU. Berri additionally met with the Deputy Chief of the British Defence Staff, Marshal Harvey Smyth, and the UK Ambassador to Lebanon, Hamish Cowell, to discuss the situation in Lebanon and the region.

The EU Commissioner's visit to Beirut followed the meeting of the European Council on April 17-18, where European leaders reaffirmed the EU's strong support for Lebanon and the Lebanese people amidst the country's domestic and regional challenges.

Várhelyi's mission aimed to lay the groundwork for restarting dialogue and identify areas of reinforced cooperation between the EU and Lebanon. During his visit, the Commissioner also met with Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib and the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces Joseph Aoun.

Why this matters: Várhelyi's meetings with Lebanese leaders come at a critical time as Lebanon faces significant political and economic challenges. The EU's support and engagement with Lebanon is essential for promoting stability, reforms, and addressing pressing issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis in the country.

In his meetings, Várhelyi discussed key topics including the need for the EU to adjust its assistance policy for displaced Syrians in Lebanon to facilitate their return, a forthcoming package of EU political and financial support measures for Lebanon, the importance of backing the Lebanese army and security institutions, and advancing development projects in vital sectors. The visit underscores the EU's commitment to Lebanon and efforts to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the two sides as Lebanon navigates its current difficulties.

Key Takeaways

  • EU Commissioner Várhelyi visited Lebanon, met with political leaders on April 22, 2024.
  • Mikati urged EU to modify aid policy to facilitate Syrian refugees' return to Syria.
  • Várhelyi discussed supporting Lebanese army, security institutions, and development projects.
  • Berri and UK officials discussed Israel's aggression against Lebanon and Gaza.
  • Visit aimed to restart EU-Lebanon dialogue and identify areas for reinforced cooperation.