BEIRUT — The European Union will provide Lebanon with an additional €75 million in aid, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, announced Wednesday from the presidential palace in Baabda.
Varhelyi stressed Lebanon's need to form a new government and elect a successor to President Michel Aoun before the end of his term on Oct. 31.
"We are aware of the difficult socioeconomic situation in Lebanon caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadly explosion in the port of Beirut, and the socioeconomic crisis," said Varhelyi after his meeting with Aoun, according to a statement from Baabda Palace. "We have therefore decided to increase our aid this year by €75 million to support the Lebanese people, which would help establish good governance and strengthen the institutions of the state and the various parties involved in this operation."
The Hungarian diplomat said €25 million will be devoted "to alleviate the crisis resulting from the rise in food prices,'' though it was unclear whether this €25 million is part of the aforementioned €75 million or in addition to. The official also assured "cash aid will be given directly to the Lebanese people,'' also according to Baabda.
A statement from the EU referred only to the sum of €25 million in addition to a total aid package of €229 million, part of which is dedicated to "The Syrian Crisis and Food Resilience Facility.''
"European aid to the Lebanese people has never been conditional, but it is impossible to grant aid in the absence of a government to receive it and a state to distribute it," said Varhelyi, according to Baabda.
"In the presence of a president and a cabinet, we are ready to grant more aid and additional amounts," Varhelyi promised.
The European Commissioner also met Wednesday with Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, caretaker minister of foreign affairs Abdallah Bou Habib, caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami, and Armed Forces Commander General Joseph Aoun, according to the EU statement.
Lebanon is at risk of a simultaneous presidential and governmental vacancy if Aoun's successor is not elected before Oct. 31. Government negotiations between Aoun and Mikati, whose caretaker cabinet has been in charge of governmental affairs since May, have still not been concluded due to a political tug-of-war between the two men.
For his part, Aoun assured that "contacts are underway to form a new government during the month" and expressed his hope that MPs will manage to elect his successor before the deadline.
He also called on the EU to"support the repatriation of Syrian refugees in accordance with the plan put in place by the Lebanese government." He pointed to the fact that the aid granted to these refugees "does not go through the official Lebanese institutions.''
BEIRUT — The European Union will provide Lebanon with an additional €75 million in aid, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, announced Wednesday from the presidential palace in Baabda.Varhelyi stressed Lebanon's need to form a new government and elect a successor to President Michel Aoun before the end of his term on Oct. 31."We are aware of the...