EU Delegation Calls on Foes to Abide by Dissociation Policy, Formation of Cabinet

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  • W460
  • W460

A visiting European delegation stressed on Saturday the importance of forming a cabinet capable of overseeing the upcoming Presidential elections and called on political foes to abide by the dissociation policy to safeguard the country.

“We are concerned with maintaining stability in the country and we urge the formation of a government that would be capable of overseeing next year's parliamentary elections and the upcoming presidential elections,” Elmar Brok, chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, told reporters after talks with Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati at the Grand Serail.

Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam was appointed in April but has so far been unable to put together a government over the conditions and counter conditions set by the rivals parties as fears mount that the differences between the March 8 and 14 camps would lead to a vacuum the presidential post.

President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ends in May 2014, but the constitutional period to elect a new head of state begins on March 25, two months prior to the expiration of the president's mandate.

Brok reiterated the European Union's call on all parties to fully abide by Lebanon's dissociation policy and to support Suleiman's endeavors in this regards.

The European official expressed hope that all sects cooperate to make Lebanon an model for coexistence in the region.

The Baabda Declaration was unanimously adopted during a national dialogue session in June 2012. It calls for Lebanon to disassociate itself from regional crises, most notably the one in Syria.

The meeting between Miqati and Brok was held in presence of EU ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst, and German Parliament members Frank Heinrich and Tobias Zech.

The delegation later held separate talks with President Michel Suleiman, head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Saniora and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun.

The visiting delegation met on Friday with Speaker Nabih Berri and several other officials.

For his part, Heinrich acknowledged the challenges facing Lebanon because of the turmoil in neighboring country Syria.

He praised the efforts exerted by the Lebanese state to improve the conditions of Syrian refugees on its territories.

Brok slammed statements by Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who warned on Friday the formation of a neutral cabinet.

He voiced his displeasure that “a party in Lebanon isn't ready to cooperate to maintain stability while it's active in Syria.”

“Hizbullah should recognize the huge responsibility on its shoulders and become part of an independent solution,” Brok added.

Nasrallah said in a speech, during the commemoration of the assassination of party official Hassan al-Laqqis, that “there is no such thing as a neutral cabinet in Lebanon as there are no longer any neutral candidates.”

He also warned against the formation of a de facto government, saying: “We do not advise anyone to take such a step.”

He therefore suggested the formation of a national unity government, which will ensure Lebanon's salvation.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council said in a statement on Monday, following a meeting in Brussels, that the EU countries will participate in a meeting set to be held in Kuwait on December 15 to for donor countries to tackle the case of Syrian refugees.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 842,000 Syrians have fled to Lebanon since Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011.

Lebanon is hosting the highest number of Syrian refugees in the region, followed by Turkey and Jordan.

While both Turkey and Jordan have opened official refugee camps at the borders with Syria, Lebanon's government has refused to do so.

Thousands of refugees now live in apartments -- either as relatives' guests or as renters.

But thousands of others, who cannot afford the cost of living in Lebanon's cities, shelter in hundreds of informal tent settlements scattered across the country.

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