1. Support for Syrian refugees
Lebanon is accomplishing an incredible feat: the country has taken in more than one million Syrian refugees – which is equivalent to more than one-quarter of the entire population of the country. Germany is supporting Lebanon as it works to accomplish this tremendous task. The Federal Foreign Office has provided more than 1.4 billion euros in assistance since 2012. Foreign Minister Maas and his counterpart discussed how Germany can continue to support the Lebanese Government in this regard. Foreign Minister Maas stressed:
We want to remain strongly engaged. That’s also true for Syria’s neighbouring countries, and for the suffering population in Syria itself. For Germany, it is clear that the repatriation of refugees must be voluntary, and occur in safety and dignity.
2. Implementing economic reforms
The economic situation in Lebanon remains very tense. A lack of transparency and corruption are impeding economic growth. The Government must now urgently implement the economic reforms that have been agreed with the international community. Germany advocates making civil society and private economic actors part of the reform process. The German Government is also providing targeted support with measures to promote foreign trade and investment. For example, the Federal Foreign Office conducted a training programme in Berlin in April 2019 for Lebanese economic affairs counsellors, and a German-Lebanese investors’ conference is scheduled to be held in Berlin in October 2019.
3. Tensions between Israel and Lebanon
Discussions also focused on recent tensions between Hezbollah and the Israel Defense Forces. Germany is working to promote the reconciliation of interests, and is urging restraint on all sides. The German Government supports implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701, which seeks to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon and to monitor the arms embargo on non-state Lebanese actors. Foreign Minister Maas firmly believes that a new conflict must be prevented. This requires that Hezbollah stop its aggressive activities, both against Israel and in Syria.