BEIRUT — The Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri called on the European Union on Tuesday to help Lebanon "find swift solutions" to the Syrian refugee crisis, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported.
During a meeting with a European parliamentary delegation responsible for relations with the countries of the Mashreq region, Berri reiterated his call for dialogue to enable the election of a president and assured that the Parliament is ready to facilitate Lebanon's cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In his discussions with the European parliamentarians, Berri called on the EU to assist Lebanon in finding quick solutions to the humanitarian issue of Syrian refugees.
"It is no longer morally, ethically, or legally acceptable to ignore the repercussions of the displaced crisis in Lebanon, which should be resolved through the voluntary return of Syrians to their country," Berri said.
According the Lebanese authorities' estimates, over 2 million Syrians have sought refuge in Lebanon since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011, while the United Nations has registered 830,000 Syrian refugees.
Regarding the presidential elections, Berri once again called for "dialogue among all parties."
"I have already called for dialogue twice, and both invitations have been declined. We then held a 12th parliamentary session to elect a president [last Wednesday], and you know the outcome," he said.
Lebanon has been without a president since the end of Michel Aoun's term on October 31. MPs have attempted to elect a new head of state 12 times without success, due to a lack of political consensus.
Berri also addressed the issue of the agreement between Lebanon and the IMF, aimed at pulling the country out of the deep economic crisis that has persisted for over three years now.
"Lebanon has initiated an agreement with the IMF. There are one or two remaining points that need to be resolved, including the protection of depositors' rights. In any case, electing a president, appointing a prime minister, and forming a government will allow the implementation of this agreement with the IMF, which has almost unanimous acceptance. The Parliament is ready to legislate within this framework," Berri emphasized.
In April 2022, Lebanon reached a preliminary agreement with the IMF, committing to implementing structural reforms in exchange for a $3 billion aid program. However, these reforms have yet to be implemented.