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Statement by State Secretary Janez Lenarčič on behalf of the EU Council on the Situation in Lebanon

Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

Efforts to secure peace, stability, economic prosperity and respect for human rights remain the priorities at the heart of the diplomatic action of the European Union and its Member States in relation to the situation in Lebanon. We are striving to maintain Lebanon's sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, unity and stability.

The EU supports Lebanon's democratic institutions and the legitimate government led by the Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. However, we are concerned about the long paralysis of Lebanese institutions since at least November 2006 and aggravated since November 2007 by the vacant presidential position. As you know, the presidential elections, last scheduled for 25 March 2008, have already been postponed 17 times and are now scheduled for 22 April 2008.

In addition to being a major financial donor to Lebanon, the EU also deployed intense diplomatic activity aimed at helping to overcome the political deadlock in the country. In this respect, we support efforts by the UN, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League. The EU has thus supported the Three Points Plan unanimously adopted by  Arab foreign Ministers. As you are aware, the plan foresees the immediate election of a president, the formation of a national unity government and the subsequent drafting of a new electoral law.

Despite their stated support to this plan, the Lebanese political parties have diverging interpretations concerning its implementation. There appear to be two main stumbling blocks to putting the proposal into practice. One is internal; the two sides cannot agree on representation in the Government, the allocation of ministerial portfolios and the issue of a new electoral law. The other stumbling block concerns Syria, which seems reluctant to renounce its influence on Lebanon.

However, the Arab League Plan currently appears to be the only initiative that could help to put an end to the political deadlock in the country. We expect that the Arab League's Secretary-General (Mr Moussa) will continue with mediation efforts to resolve the current situation, and the EU will continue to provide him with its full support.

Unfortunately, the recent Arab League Summit held in Damascus at the end of March did not bring the desired outcome as regards resolving the situation. Lebanon demonstrated its protest at Syrian interference with the procedure of electing the Lebanese President by not attending the Summit.

Please allow me to underline the EU commitment to positions contained in different UNSC resolutions on the situation in Lebanon.[1] Its support for UN efforts is manifested by European participation in the UN mission in Lebanon. EU Member States are the main contributors to the UN Interim Force. Despite a number of attacks, in which 6 peacekeepers of the Spanish contingent lost their lives and 3 Irish ones were injured, the mission is successfully implementing its mandate. In August 2007 the mandate was prolonged for another year.

Moreover, EU Member States support the setting up of a UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, to be located in the Netherlands. We have been making endeavours so that the Special Tribunal will be able to start its operations as soon as possible.

Furthermore, I would like to recall the entry into force of the EU-Lebanon Action Plan in 2007. This instrument is a further upgrade to existing cooperation in the framework of the Barcelona Process. The activities included in this framework are already underway.

Thank you.

[1]Resolutions No. 1559, 1680, 1701 and 1757.


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Date: 11.04.2008