President of the European Commission Ursula von der Layen announced on Thursday a one billion Euros (USD 1.70 billion) financial assistance package to Lebanon that will be dispersed this year until 2027.
During her visit to Lebanon, von der Layen accompanied by the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides held a meeting with the prime minister of Lebanon Najib Mikati, she stated, "we want to contribute to the social and economic stability in Lebanon".
This continued EU support, she added, will strengthen basic services like education, social protection, and health of the people of Lebanon accompanied with crucial economic, financial, and banking reforms.
To address the border-smuggling issue, the EU will also support the Lebanese Armed Forces and other security forces with equipment and training for border management.
Von der Layen also touched on the responsibility of the EU towards Palestine and stressed that the EU endorses all efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza, and the release of all hostages, believing that the only way forward is to have both sides coexist peacefully.
She emphasized her concern on the instability in southern Lebanon calling for the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701.
On his part, President Christodoulides believes that the funding package should suffice and provide much needed assistance for Lebanese authorities to combat human trafficking, border smuggling, and assure the safety of the Lebanese people.
He also said, "we must work with our partners to find a solution that will voluntarily move Syrians in Lebanon back to their country" hinting that the EU understands the refugee burden Lebanon has been withstanding for 12 years.
Prime Minister Mikati, on behalf of his country, voiced his appreciation to the EU for their stance and continuous support that allows the Lebanese authorities to regulate, monitor all borders and prevent illegal immigration.
The safety of Lebanon is the safety of Europe and vice versa, Mikati said, adding that the cooperation between the two sides to solve the refugee problem should see the benefit and stability for both sides.
The first step should be guaranteeing the safety of Syrian cities for the refugees to find it easier and to motivate them to immigrate back to their country, Mikati said.
Pointing to the reality of Lebanon being a transit stop for refugees immigrating to Europe from Syria, Mikati said that the problems that occurred on Cyprian borders are only an example of what could happen if the issue was not resolved.
As for the Palestinian issue, Mikati renewed his call on the EU to pressure the Israeli occupation to cease their constant aggression on the Palestinian people and work on a permanent and just solution for the crisis. (end)

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