Videoconference in support of the people of Lebanon - Address by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris, 2 December 2020)


Heads of State and Government,


Dear friends,

I would like to conclude these discussions with a few words of thanks. Despite the very short notice, you have turned out in force, as many of you also did on 9 August. And that in itself sends a strong message of support to the people of Lebanon.

I also want to especially thank the Lebanese civil society organizations among us today who have explained the challenges they are facing on the ground, but also their vision and goals, four months after the disaster on 4 August. They played an essential role in distributing the aid which, as far as possible, we wanted to go straight to those affected by the explosion. They played an essential role in the resilience of the Lebanese population under tragic circumstances. And today, they embody, you embody, the vitality of Lebanese society, but also its desire for change.

The conference which has just brought us together demonstrates, if it were necessary, that we stand fully behind the people of Lebanon. Together, we worked to meet the needs expressed following the 4 August explosion. The United Nations showed the exceptional nature of our mobilization as the amounts set out on 9 August were substantially exceeded. But this mobilization does not end here.

As many participants emphasized, we must support the people of Lebanon in the face of the humanitarian crisis and roll out the second phase of the international response to the 4 August explosion. After the emergency response, this new phase is the early recovery. There are still major needs in terms of health and humanitarian assistance, and the international community will meet them. As several of you highlighted, we will also step up our efforts to restore public facilities and accommodation. We will support small and medium-sized enterprises hit by the explosion. The role of education in the Lebanese model was raised by many of our participants, and will remain a key part of our action. Because the future of the young people of Lebanon is at stake, and through them, the future of the country.

But as you have heard, beyond humanitarian action, the international community is ready to provide Lebanon with more significant and sustainable assistance. This was already announced at the CEDRE Conference in April 2018. However, the precondition for this economic and financial assistance, which would help support the recovery in Lebanon, are the reforms of which we are all aware.
These reforms, which the people of Lebanon have been seeking for over a year, are vital in order for Lebanon to emerge from this worsening crisis. And this crisis did not begin on 4 August. Without specific actions from the leaders of Lebanon to undertake these reforms and improve the governance of the country, nothing can be achieved. This starts by putting in place a government of competence, with political support to implement a reform agenda. To do this, all Lebanese political forces committed to this goal must overcome their differences. They owe it to the people of Lebanon, who are the main victims of their leaders’ inability to assess the situation and put the interests of their people first.

Dear friends, our presence today shows that we stand with the people of Lebanon, it shows what we require from the Lebanese authorities and it shows our shared sentiment that the Lebanese people deserve more than the current situation. The people of Lebanon must know, and I think they know tonight, that we will not abandon them.

Thank you./.