Lebanon’s Prime Minister Called Out France As Unhelpful

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In a Cabinet session on Tuesday, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that the French Foreign Minister’s visit brought “nothing new.” He added that the French minister has a “lack of knowledge of the process of government reforms.”

He called them out for their condition to help based on the implementation of reforms and the requirement to pass through the IMF.

That, in his opinion, “confirms that the international decision is to not help Lebanon until now.”

Last week, French FM Jean-Yves Le Drian came to Lebanon bearing a strong message from his government. “Help us help you,” he said while urging the Lebanese government to make much-needed reforms.

“It is now urgent and necessary to embark on a concrete path of reform,” he announced during his joint Press Conference with his Lebanese counterpart, Minister Hitti, on July 23rd.

“This is the message I have come to convey to all the Lebanese authorities and all the political forces. And the expectations that I express are not simply those of France. They are primarily those of the Lebanese and they are also those of the entire international community.”

He cited the following:

  • Relaunch of negotiations with the IMF, in particular through the effective implementation of the audit of the Bank of Lebanon,
  • Reform of the electricity sector, which is an emblematic project,
  • Fight against corruption,
  • Fight against smuggling.
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🇫🇷🇱🇧Conférence de presse de Jean-Yves Le Drian, et de #NassifHitti, ministre libanais des Affaires étrangères – Propos de M. Le Drian (Beyrouth, le 23 juillet 2020) : «  Si je suis ici, Mesdames et Messieurs, c’est tout d’abord pour affirmer que la France se tient et se tiendra toujours aux côtés du Liban et des Libanais. » « Mesdames et Messieurs, c’est aussi au nom de ces liens que je suis venu porter ici un message de vérité. L’heure est grave. Le Liban est dans une situation très préoccupante. La crise économique et financière fait rage. Elle a des conséquences concrètes dramatiques pour les Libanais, qui s’appauvrissent de jour en jour. » « Il est aujourd’hui urgent et nécessaire de s’engager de manière concrète dans la voie des réformes. Et c’est le message que je suis venu transmettre à toutes les autorités libanaises et à l’ensemble des forces politiques. Et les attentes que j’exprime ne sont pas simplement celles de la France. Ce sont en premier lieu celles des Libanais et ce sont aussi celles de l’ensemble de la communauté internationale. » – Relance des négociations avec le FMI, notamment à travers la mise en œuvre effective de l’audit de la Banque du Liban – Réforme du secteur de l’électricité, qui est un chantier emblématique – Lutte contre la corruption – Lutte contre la contrebande « La France déploie également une action humanitaire à destination des populations les plus vulnérables. Le montant de notre soutien humanitaire direct s’établira cette année à 50 millions d’euros » — Jean-Yves Le Drian Discours complet sur diplomatie.gouv.fr Photo : @afpphoto Joseph Eid (c) _ #liban #lebanon #lebanon🇱🇧 #beyrouth #lebanese #france #jeanyvesledrian #emmanuelmacron #paris #CEDRE #FMI #Europe #aidehumanitaire #quaidorsay #diplomacy #diplomatie #ledrian #FranceAuLiban #ledrianlb

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Le Drian carried France’s message that Lebanon will only receive the support it desperately needs if it becomes serious about enacting reforms and shows the effort of working toward constructive change and the IMF plan.

IMF Bailout

Despite the government current stance, the $10 billion IMF deal seems to be the only solution for Lebanon. Hence, the international community is encouraging the Lebanese government to seek it.

Even an acclaimed economy professor at John Hopkins University said that the only way out of Lebanon’s hyperinflation is by getting the IMF package. He even suggested how.

France aid

Notwithstanding the Lebanese premier’s sentiments about France’s alleged unwillingness to help, it is worth mentioning that France has just donated $17 million to Francophone schools in Lebanon, and is now dedicating financial support to students in these schools.

That’s in addition to reportedly working on a “big plan” to help Lebanon and allocating a considerable fund for direct humanitarian support.

According to the French Foreign Ministry during his press conference, “France is also deploying humanitarian action aimed at the most vulnerable populations. The amount of our direct humanitarian support will amount to 50 million euros this year.”

At this point, it is unknown how the Lebanese government intends to secure the much-needed rescue. It is similarly intriguing why implementing reforms seems as problematic to it as to stop the only offered financial help.

After all, the Lebanese people have been also asking for immediate reforms since October 17th of last year. The country, in its current status, is also desperate for them.

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