Lebanon’s Premier Seeks France’s Help After Blunt Criticism

Annahar | Alahed News

Within the same week, Prime Minister Hassan Diab suddenly made a shift in opinion, changing his mind about the French.

In a Cabinet session, earlier on Tuesday, he had some words to say about France, and they weren’t too diplomatic nor friendly.

Following France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s visit to Lebanon, Diab basically called out France as being unhelpful and bringing “nothing new” to the table.

He even said that the French minister had a “lack of knowledge of the process of government reforms.”

AFP

This comment, among other statements he made at the Cabinet session, was posted on his official Twitter account and later deleted on the same day, but not before it circulated social media.

A screenshot of the original tweet where PM Diab called out the French as being unhelpful.

On Thursday, however, Diab went back on his criticism of the French. He stated that Lebanon was looking into ways to get financial assistance from France and boost cooperation and bilateral relations.

He added that Le Drian’s visit upheld the historic relationship connecting the two countries.

AP Photo

Reactions

Diab’s statements against the French were met with strong disapproval by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea.

In a chat with reporters, Hariri said that he was regretful about Diab’s comments against the French.

“Where does [Diab] take us with this diplomacy towards our historical friends who have stood with us in all the crises that passed in Lebanon?” he asked.

Dr. Geagea made a similar statement on Twitter, rejecting Diab’s stance towards the French as “unacceptable” and disturbing to the relationship between both countries.

“It is not acceptable for anyone to disturb Lebanon’s historical relationship with France,” he issued. “France has always been beside Lebanon in all circumstances, difficulties, and challenges. This is not how we reward them for supporting Lebanon.”

It’s worth mentioning that Le Drian came to Lebanon with one particular purpose, and that was to urge the Lebanese government to save the country from the abyss it’s heading to.

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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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For that, he risked contracting the coronavirus while Lebanon is still tackling the pandemic. In fact, Le Drian came in close contact with a Lebanese ministry official who found out he was positive for the virus during the official lunch.

It is undeniable what France has done for Lebanon in the past through education and culture. The French language, which is widely spoken by the Lebanese as their 2nd language, is inherent in the curriculum of most schools in the country.

In fact, ever since Lebanon’s independence in 1943, France has proven to be the closest country-friend to Lebanon.

And now again, it’s acting as such.

France has just pledged a generous amount of funding to rescue French schools in Lebanon and their students, as Le Drian announced it during his visit.

It was also reported that France is working on a “big plan” to further help through funding for humanitarian support.

The Daily Star | Mohammad Azakir

France is indeed showing support in action, not just promises. However, it asks that Lebanon does its part to help itself and make reforms in order to achieve international financial support.

What is keeping the Lebanese government to do so remains an enigma surrounded by diverse speculations; all while the stalling persists and Lebanon’s fate hangs on a threat.