Closing Speech by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs – Conference in Support of the Population of Lebanon (4 August 2021)


Heads of State and Government,


Dear friends,

Our mobilization today is a demonstration, if any was needed, of our determination to continue standing alongside the people of Lebanon, in all circumstances. In the past year, Lebanon’s leaders cannot be said to have been equal to the serious crisis their country is suffering. But we have been, we remain and we will continue to be.

I would like to thank you most sincerely for your participation and for the new announcements made today. I would like to extend all my thanks to the United Nations – particularly humanitarian coordinator Najat Rochdi – which is playing a central role on the ground in identifying, coordinating and monitoring aid, to ensure it goes directly and in full transparency to the population. The United Nations has been closely involved in preparing this conference, organized at the initiative of France’s President. Lastly, I would like to thank the Lebanese civil society organizations here with us. Every day, they carry out remarkable work to support the Lebanese people, embodying hope and the future of Lebanon. And they must know that they can continue counting on us.

We answered the call a year ago, urgently, to respond to the immediate consequences of the explosion. Then, on 2 December, we met again in support of the country’s recovery, and observed that the amounts pledged on 9 August last year had been delivered and even exceeded. Today, one year to the day after the tragedy of 4 August 2020, and as the crisis now affects the whole country, becoming a humanitarian disaster, we have together responded to the new emergency appeal by the United Nations for $357 million, announcing contributions that go beyond the needs that had been identified. A total amount of more than $370 million has been announced for the coming year, in addition to considerable contributions in kind announced today. This outcome is remarkable and I would like to strongly commend it as this conference comes to a close.

The contributions you have announced will help continue delivering crucial aid for the Lebanese people in the priority sectors identified by the United Nations. France has fully played its part, today announcing further contributions totalling €100 million for the next 12 months, in sectors including education, health, food security and nutrition. Our commitments will be fulfilled, as they have been over the past year, and we will continue to act in transparency and coordination.

The direct support we provide together to the people of Lebanon is in no way a substitute for the responsibilities of the Lebanese authorities. It is incumbent on them to take the decisions needed to bring an end to this crisis. Before anything else can happen, that means the immediate formation of a competent government, followed by the urgent launch of credible talks with a view to an IMF programme. In parallel, the first essential reforms need to be implemented, in the areas everyone knows: the resolution of the banking sector crisis, the regulation of capital flows, the electricity sector and the fight against corruption. That is the commitment that the Lebanese leaders have made to their people. Nobody can fulfil it for them. France and the European Union, for their part, intend to remind them of their commitments and increase pressure so that they are fulfilled.

Lastly, above and beyond the initial urgent reforms, which are a condition for any structural economic and financial support, the Lebanese authorities need to enable the people to express their aspiration, in a pluralistic and democratic framework, with an eye on the elections planned for 2022. The next government will therefore be responsible for organizing the elections transparently and impartially, in accordance with the planned schedule.

Our commitments to the Lebanese people speak for themselves. It is up to the Lebanese leaders, and I say that in the presence of the Lebanese President, to be equal to their historic responsibilities, as the stability and future of their country are at stake.

Thank you.