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France must continue ‘to act to invent solutions’ for Lebanon: Macron

France must continue ‘to act to invent solutions’ for Lebanon: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris. (Credit: Thomas Coex/AFP)

BEIRUT — French President Emmanuel Macron, who remains heavily involved in international efforts to support Lebanon, which has been in economic collapse since 2019, said Saturday that France must “continue to act to invent solutions for” the country, which is facing an unprecedented economic and financial collapse ahead of crucial legislative elections on May 15.

“We are nobody’s vassals. So we follow an independent policy and diplomacy,” French daily Le Monde quoted Macon as saying. He continued, “... the role of France is not to give in to the great divisions that paralyze, but to know how to exchange with each power, to continue to build new alliances from the Indo-Pacific to the Middle East, to continue to act to invent solutions for Lebanon, so beloved, Armenia so close, to continue to work to build this new multilateral international world order that in the coming years will have to be rethought.”

The French head of state was delivering the first extended speech of his re-election campaign. The speech lasted almost two hours.

Macron visited Lebanon twice in 2020, in August and September, after the tragic deadly explosion at the Port of Beirut on Aug. 4 that year. He endeavored to encourage the political leaders to form a reform-focused government to pave the way for international financial assistance.

The head of the Élysée Palace has also mobilized the international community around Lebanon, and lately he has been active with the Gulf monarchies, led by Saudi Arabia, in efforts to resolve a serious diplomatic crisis that has pitted Beirut against its Arab neighbors since last October.

The French president and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) announced on Dec. 4 from Jeddah that they wanted to “fully engage” in order to revive ties between Beirut and the kingdom, which have been damaged by the growing power of Hezbollah.

The announcement added that arms in Lebanon need to be limited to “legitimate state institutions” and that Lebanon should not be a “launching pad for terrorist acts” and “drug trafficking,” a reference to Riyadh’s repeated accusations that Hezbollah poses a security threat to the kingdom.

France and Saudi Arabia also announced the creation of a "Franco-Saudi humanitarian support mechanism” for Lebanon, which the United Arab Emirates joined in January.

With the approach of the Lebanese legislative elections, and following intense lobbying by France, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries seem ready to return to the Lebanese political game. But concrete steps toward this end are still pending. On Friday, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said Lebanon has received no sign of the return of the Gulf ambassadors recalled in the aftermath of October’s spat.  


BEIRUT — French President Emmanuel Macron, who remains heavily involved in international efforts to support Lebanon, which has been in economic collapse since 2019, said Saturday that France must “continue to act to invent solutions for” the country, which is facing an unprecedented economic and financial collapse ahead of crucial legislative elections on May 15.“We are nobody’s...