Foreign Minister Gabriel received his Lebanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, for talks in Berlin on Thursday (16 November). In view of the crisis sparked by the resignation of Prime Minister Hariri, Gabriel assured him that his country could count on Germany’s support. “Germany stands firmly by Lebanon’s side,” Gabriel said, noting that the unity and stability of the country must not be jeopardised. He further remarked that Germany and Europe owed Lebanon a debt of gratitude for its tremendous exertions to help Syrian refugees.
“The last thing people need now”
Gabriel called on all stakeholders in the region to act level-headedly. As he said, “Another trouble spot is the last thing that people in the Middle East need now.” Lebanon is currently in the throes of a political crisis. Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in a surprise announcement during a visit to Saudi Arabia. People in Lebanon are growing ever more concerned that his resignation could upset the balance of power between the various ethnic and religious groups in the country.
Support for mediation initiative
Gabriel affirmed his support for the mediation initiative launched by President Emmanuel Macron of France. Macron had invited Hariri to France for talks. Following his meeting with Foreign Minister Bassil, Gabriel said that Europe now had to convey a joint message of support for Lebanon.
A willing neighbour
As one of Syria’s direct neighbours, Lebanon has been doing its utmost to help the people who have fled the civil war. The country has taken in more than a million Syrians – a huge number given the size of the country. If Germany were to take in as many per capita, it would have to take in 20 Million!