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Lebanon – Q&A from the press briefing (22 September 2020)

Q: What is your response to the statements by President Aoun indicating that there appears to be no solution on the horizon with respect to the formation of a government in Lebanon?
A: At this critical time in Lebanon’s history, the Lebanese political forces are faced with a choice between the (…)

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France and Lebanon

Political relations

France is one of Lebanon’s main political partners, as shown by the density of political bilateral relations between the two countries and our constant support at the UN for the resolutions to defend Lebanon’s sovereignty. France supports the stability, unity, independence and sovereignty of Lebanon. France pays particular attention to strengthening the institutions of the Lebanese State in order to support its authority across Lebanon.

France is also committed to supporting the hopes expressed by the Lebanese people for reforms and governance.

French presence

Consulate-General of France: Beirut
Institut Français: Beirut, 8 Branches
French lycées: 6 lycées, 34 establishments accredited by the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE)
French Community in Lebanon: approx. 23,000
Lebanese Community in France: approx. 210,000

Visits

Visits to France

  • 8 December 2017: in the framework of the meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon, visit by a Lebanese delegation made up of the Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil
  • 26 March 2018: for the preparatory meeting ahead of the Economic Conference for Development through Reforms with the Private Sector (CEDRE), visit by a Lebanese delegation made up of the Minister of Economy and Trade, Raed Khoury, and the Minister of Telecommunications, Jamal el-Jarrah
  • 28-30 April 2018: visit by the Maronite Patriarch, Bechara al-Rahi
  • 10-11 November 2018: visit by the Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, for the Paris Peace Forum
  • 26-30 November 2018: visit to France by a Lebanese parliamentary delegation
  • 13-14 March 2019: visit by the Secretary of State for Presidential Affairs, Selim Jreissati
  • 12-15 April 2019: visit by the Secretary of State for Information Technologies, Adel Afiouni
  • 5-8 May 2019: visit by Lebanon’s Minister of Culture, Mohammed Daoud
  • 25-30 May 2019: visit by the Minister of the Agriculture, Hassan Laqqis
  • 19-21 September 2019: visit by Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri

Visits to Lebanon

  • 28-29 September 2016: visit by the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, Matthias Fekl
  • 3-5 November 2016: visit by the Minister of Culture and Communication, Audrey Azoulay
  • 21-22 December 2016: visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Marc Ayrault
  • 9-12 February 2017: visit by the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine
  • 6-7 March 2017: visit by the Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian
  • 19-21 March 2017: visit by the Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Jean-Marie Le Guen
  • 2-4 November 2017: visit by the Minister of Culture, Françoise Nissen, for the Beirut Francophone Book Fair
  • 16 July 2019: visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian
  • 1-3 July 2019: visit by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly
  • 23-24 July 2020: visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian
  • 6 August 2020: visit by the French President, Emmanuel Macron
  • 13 August 2020: visit by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly
  • 20 August 2020: visit by the Minister of State for Tourism, French Nationals Abroad and Francophonie, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Ambassador

French Ambassador to Lebanon: Bruno Foucher
Website of the French Embassy
Lebanese Ambassador to France: Rami Adwan

Economic relations

In 2018, France was the seventh-largest supplier to Lebanon with 3.38% of market share, behind China, Greece, Italy, the United States, Germany and Turkey.

In 2018, France’s experts to Lebanon totalled €748 million and imports to France from Lebanon totalled €54 million giving a trade surplus of €694 million. The number of French businesses exporting to Lebanon has increased from 4,558 in 2016 to 4,707 in 2017, and has increased by over 15% since 2007.

French direct investment stock in Lebanon totalled €612 million in 2017 up from €295 million in 2010. Lebanese investment stock in France has been increasing in recent years and totalled nearly €3 billion in late 2017.

Almost 100 French companies are present in Lebanon, in a variety of sectors including agri-food, telecommunications, retail, the oil industry and financial services.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our cooperation and development policy in Lebanon has five main objectives: consolidating the rule of law, economic and social development, environmental and heritage protection, university and research cooperation, cultural exchanges and debate.

The French language is still widely used in Lebanon, despite the growing use of English in business and the media and the fact that the two languages increasingly co-exist in education. Promoting the French language in Lebanon is a strategic imperative.

The Institut Français du Proche Orient (French Institute for the Near East) moved to Beirut in 2011. It plays a major role in supporting research and the spread of knowledge in the region, in liaison with local and international institutions.

The Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency – AFD) has been established in Lebanon since 1999 and has signed around thirty financial agreements there worth a cumulative amount of €1,195 million, comprising €875 million in budgetary aid and €320 million in project aid. It has four main objectives: supporting vulnerable populations, ensuring equitable access to quality health care and education services, strengthening the private sector, and supporting development of sustainable cities. It is seeking to promote the synergy and complementarity of French cooperation tools and to promote French expertise in implementing its activities.

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Other cooperation

Security cooperation

There is extensive bilateral cooperation in the internal security, civil protection and military fields. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) remain a mainstay of the nation and have the support of the population as a whole. France helps strengthen the LAF by assisting them in carrying out their missions throughout Lebanon, including in the area under UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) jurisdiction, where the Lebanese Army will gradually take over all United Nations missions, in accordance with resolution 1701. During the Rome II security support conference (15 March 2018), France also announced €14 million in donations and proposed a €400 million loan to Lebanese security institutions.

Assistance in addressing the consequences of the Syrian crisis

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, France has also provided Lebanon with substantial humanitarian assistance destined both for Syrian and Palestinian refugees (€1.5 million for a total population of 6 million) and the most vulnerable countries. During the Brussels IV conference to support the future of Syria and the region (30 June 2020), France committed €845 million (€208 million in donations and €637 million in loans) for the 2020/2022 period, including a significant amount for Lebanon.

Relations with the European Union

The European Union is a particularly important partner for Lebanon from a political perspective, through its support for unity, stability and independence, its involvement in monitoring the resolutions adopted by the United Nations and its support for political and economic reform. From an economic perspective, the EU is Lebanon’s leading economic partner and accounts for around a third of its trade. Lastly, from a humanitarian standpoint, the EU is actively involved in the Brussels conference cycle to support the future of Syria and the region.

Lebanon and the EU are linked by an association agreement signed in Luxembourg on 17 June 2002 which took effect on 1 April 2006. In November 2016, the EU and Lebanon adopted partnership priorities for the next four years as well as the EU-Lebanon Compact.

On 22 July 2013, the EU put the armed branch of Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organizations for its involvement in attacks carried out within the Union’s territory.

Updated: August 2020