Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier attended the meeting convened today in Paris by the International Support Group for Lebanon. The group was established in 2013 on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York. At the start, the German Foreign Minister made it clear that Lebanon could count on the support of the international community and Germany in its efforts to promote intercommunal understanding and deal with the consequences of the war in Syria.
At the invitation of France, the members of the International Support Group for Lebanon are meeting once again today, under the aegis of the United Nations. Together, President François Hollande and President of Lebanon Michel Sleiman will open the consultations, which will focus primarily on how to assist Lebanon on the path to stabilising the country and in dealing with the consequences of the Syria crisis.
Germany is also taking part in the meeting. Foreign Minister Steinmeier stressed that with the formation of a government of national unity, Lebanon was “taking a firm stand against being drawn into the Syrian civil war”. He welcomed this all the more as it was a sign of the commitment shown by “all religious and other groupings in the country to the principles of pluralism and peaceful co-existence”.
The German Foreign Minister continued:
Those inside or outside Lebanon who are bent on destabilising the country must not be allowed to succeed. That is why it is so important to help Lebanon strengthen national cohesion. Only a politically united and stable country can successfully tackle the challenges ahead. Notably the influx of over a million Syrian refugees puts a severe strain on the country, a strain it has so far stood up to.
Lebanon can count on the support of the international community and Germany in its efforts to promote intercommunal understanding and deal with the consequences of the war in Syria.
Steinmeier went on to say that this was the “clear message” that the International Support Group wanted to send at today’s Lebanon conference in Paris.
Helping to stabilise Lebanon
The International Support Group for Lebanon was established on 25 September 2013 on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York with the aim of stabilising the country and helping it deal with the consequences of the ongoing crisis in Syria. Under the aegis of the United Nations membership includes, along with Lebanon, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as international organisations, such as the Arab League, the European Union and the World Bank.
Germany also takes part in the consultations of the International Support Group by virtue of the substantial humanitarian aid and assistance for refugees it provides in Lebanon as well as its efforts to strengthen state institutions there. Since 2012 the German Government has provided some 100 million euros in humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
In a unique programme unmatched anywhere else in the EU, Germany is currently in the process of taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees, mostly from refugee camps in Lebanon. Since the start of the crisis in Syria 30,000 Syrians have found shelter in Germany.