The head of EU foreign policy said on Sunday (June 20) that the struggle for power between Lebanese leaders is at the core of the government crisis. He urged them to put aside hatred and form a cabinet, otherwise they will face the risk of full financial collapse and sanctions. . .
After meeting with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nabih Berry, Joseph Borrell stated that he sent a frank message that some leaders If the steps to form a new government continue to be obstructed and implemented poorly, they may face the reforms needed for sanctions.
“This country is in a huge financial dilemma. To solve the economic crisis, they need a government,” he said. “A ship in a storm needs a captain and a crew member to make the system work… Otherwise, the ship will sink.”
“Obviously, this is a power distribution struggle. I have to say that there is also a strong distrust,” he told a group of reporters before leaving Beirut.
Borrell said that Lebanon needs a government with technical capabilities and real authority to avoid the failure of the outgoing Hassan Diab government. He said the government has proposed a sound financial reform plan that has been blocked by politicians.
Lebanon’s currency has depreciated by 90%. More than half of the population lives in poverty while also dealing with severe inflation, power outages, and shortages of fuel and food.
The political stalemate exacerbated the crisis, and Hariri and Aoun had a dispute over the formation of a new government for months.
Borrell said that without the government’s cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and implementing reforms to address corruption and mismanagement of funds, foreign aid would not flow. But he said the leaders he met were pessimistic about making progress.
He said that if no action is taken, foreign exchange reserves will be reduced and the country will have no foreign exchange to pay for basic commodities or prevent a shortage of hospital supplies.
He said his talks highlighted the deep differences between Lebanese sectarian communities, whether it is Christianity, Sunni or Shiite Muslims, or Druze, and the way in which power is shared. “There are obvious problems with this country’s governance system,” he said.
Some EU countries, led by France, threatened to adopt sanctions in order to push politicians to end the deadlock.
A diplomatic note from the EU seen by Reuters showed that the criteria for imposing possible sanctions could be corruption, hindering efforts to form a government, improper financial handling and human rights violations.
The EU has not yet decided on its approach. Paris stated that it restricted the entry of some Lebanese officials, which it believed had hindered efforts to respond to the crisis, but did not name them.
“Sanctions are a possibility that may be considered, and we very much hope not to use it. But we can’t always do this,” said Borrell, who reported to the EU foreign minister on Monday.