Kickstarting his two-day visit in Lebanon, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian met with senior officials in Baabda Palace on Thursday.
Together with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab, they looked into ways to save Lebanon from its economical disaster.
Le Drian’s visit came after he voiced deep concerns over Lebanon’s situation. “Help us help you,” he said, urging Lebanon to help itself, in a parliamentary session in France earlier this month.
Le Drian arrived in Beirut bearing a warning to Lebanese officials. If serious reforms are not made, France will not extend aid to Lebanon.
According to Reuters, “Diab told him Lebanon had accomplished a number of reforms despite “obstacles” and had set out a timeline for further reforms.”
However, France has noted that there has been no fundamental reform in the months since the government’s formation.
Neither have the people.
One clear example is the repealing of the law of appointments based on merit, adding to the fact that, on the ground, the people haven’t seen reforms. The compounding crises continue to aggravate and so are their sufferings.
Nevertheless, “Lebanon is looking forward to France’s assistance in the reform process and in the fight against corruption,” said President Aoun.
In parallel to Le Drian’s visit, French President Emmanuel Macron is reportedly working on a big plan to save Lebanon.
France, which was a former colonial power in Lebanon and deems itself a close friend to Lebanon, is already rescuing students of French schools from the Lebanese economic crisis.
Like France, the U.S., Egypt, and Italy have also expressed the desire to see Lebanon stable again.
With the forensic audit finally approved, will France help Lebanon out of its enormous debt?
And could France really help Lebanon liberate itself from decades of corruption that, after all, is closely linked to the complex system of appointments based on sect?
The big question, though, is whether the ruling officials will allow that to happen.
France has made one thing clear: Lebanon will not receive help if it does not get serious about change.