Lebanese President to EU: Return of Syrian Refugees Must Not be Linked to Political Solution

Wednesday, 12 September, 2018 - 09:45
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun called on the European Union to “activate the decisions of financial support for Lebanon,” stressing that the country was seeking to secure a smooth return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.

In a speech at the European parliament in the French city of Strasbourg, Aoun said: “In a country with a small area, dense population and limited resources, suffering from weak infrastructure and increased unemployment, you must easily realize the extent of the burden we are shouldering.”

He noted that the international community “did not bear its responsibilities to support Lebanon in mitigating the impact of this displacement, based on the principle of sharing burdens and responsibilities among states.”

“Lebanon seeks to secure a dignified and safe return of the displaced to their homes and rejects any stalling in this regard,” the president said, adding that his country “refuses to link [the return] to a long-standing political solution.”

Lebanon hosts more than a million refugees, who have strained the country’s already limited resources.

Commenting on the general situation in Lebanon, Aoun stressed that the country was divided politically “due to regional wars” not to national problems.

“The Lebanese society, by nature, is not an incubator for extremism and the rejection of the other. Respect for freedom of belief, expression of opinion and the right to disagree is part of the Lebanese culture,” he added.

“These characteristics help Lebanon overcome its problems and bolster its internal security, in addition to inspiring other countries.”

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