Hariri: My settlement with Aoun is a Maronite marriage and I will not be distracted by useless political bickering

The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri said that his decision is to work for the citizens, the economy and Lebanon and not to be distracted by useless political bickering, adding that none of the political parties wants to stop the work of the government. He promised that the electricity plan will be ready soon and preparations are ongoing to discuss and approve the draft budget as soon as possible.

Hariri said that all political parties want the return of the displaced Syrians to their country, but the question is on how to achieve this. He denied all rumors about their resettlement because the Lebanese constitution is clear in this regard.

Hariri's stances came during a meeting today at the Grand Serail with a delegation from the Press Syndicate, headed by Aouni Kaaki, who congratulated Hariri on the formation of the new government and wished him success.

In response to the questions of syndicate members, Hariri said: Unfortunately, in Lebanon there are those who look at the empty half of the cup and focus on the negatives, but I want to look at the full half, and the achievements we can make for the benefit of our country and our citizens.

He added that no one wants to stop the work of the government, the electricity plan will be ready soon and the budget will be approved as soon as possible.

Hariri said : As promised in the ministerial statement, the budget will be a reformative one and will reduce squander. It will be realistic and we are on the right track. Everyone is talking about solving the same problems, and all parties want solutions for electricity, waste, the displaced and the fight against squander and corruption, as well as the adoption of the budget. My duty is to round the corners with everyone, increase the investment in the country, encourage investors from abroad, and restore confidence in the state. There are many positive things even if some think they are small and each minister is doing what he should.

Hariri hailed the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to lift the travel ban on its citizens, pointing out that more than 12 thousand Saudi tourists visited Lebanon within a few days after the decision and that the total number of tourists through Beirut airport increased by 20 percent during the first two months of the year. He added: We are working now with the United Arab Emirates to reach a similar decision.

He added that the movement at the port of Beirut doubled over the past two years, and this is a positive result due to the political consensus. I decided not to be distracted by the political bickering that does not bring anything to the economy, growth and employment opportunities. The Brussels 3 conference was successful and raised $ 7 billion to address the burden of the Syrian displacement in neighboring countries, while it had not exceeded $ 5 billion in the last two years. Political debate is normal in the country, but the challenges are difficult and we will all agree on the decisions. There are several legislations that have been passed, and many projects have been withdrawn because they are costly for the Treasury. There is a focus on the adoption of laws related to CEDRE, and in the next few months all the CEDRE reforms will be approved, because there is an agreement between all political forces, especially between President Aoun, Speaker Berri and me.

Hariri continued: The achievements will come, and all political parties want to apply CEDRE and carry out reforms and fight corruption. There can be corrupt people in all political parties. The important thing is that there is a decision that no one will cover the corrupt, and there is no red line that stops the judiciary from prosecuting any perpetrator.

We have to reconsider the way we work and the laws. The McKinsey study put proposals for the advancement of each sector, and is at the heart of the plan that we are working to achieve.

He said: With regard to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, you know that all the Lebanese and all the political parties want their return to their country, but the question is how to achieve this. From the very first moment, the Director-General of General Security was assigned to communicate with the Syrian side and lists were submitted, but only a small percentage was approved. The Lebanese government is cooperating from the very first moment with the Russian initiative and the major powers are the ones capable of imposing the solution because they are the ones who are working on the political solution in Syria. While waiting for that, we should encourage the return and benefit from international support.

The problem of displaced people is a problem for all Lebanese. We want practical results. As for the normalization of relations with the regime, Lebanon applies a disassociation policy and is committed to the stance of the Arab League and its decisions about the Syrian regime. Where is Lebanon's interest in facing the Arab League and the international community?

He said that in all the international conferences in which he participated, no one expressed, directly or indirectly, an explicit or implicit intention to resettle the displaced in Lebanon.

He added: This will not happen and our constitution prevents it. There is a Lebanese consensus on that and everyone knows this, including the international community. On the other hand, we will be lying to ourselves if we claim that all our economic problems are only due to the crisis of Syrian displacement. Our problems also come from the way we work, which we have to change, and we have to carry out reforms. It is not logical that we are still working with laws that date back to 50 and 70 years.

In response to a question about the fate of his settlement with President Michel Aoun, he said that this settlement is a Maronite marriage, for Lebanon's interest. We have taken a decision, the President and I, for the interest of the country and despite all the political bickering, communication continues. Nothing stops the process of reforms and achievements. I assure you that no disagreement would stop work, neither a disagreement with the Free Patriotic Movement nor with Amal, the Progressive Socialist Party, the Lebanese Forces or the Marada, and not even the known and public differences with Hezbollah.

US ambassador

Separately, Hariri received today at the Grand Serail the US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, in the presence of former minister Ghattas Khoury.

He also met with the Minister of Energy and Water Nada Boustani, the General Director of Internal Security Forces, Major General Imad Osman, and a delegation of the Lebanese Association of Certified Public Accountants.

Source: National News Agency