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Štefan Füle

European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy

Press points following the meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati

Official visit to Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut, 27 October 2011

I am delighted to be in Beirut for the first time on an official visit. This morning, I have had the honour to meet with President Sleiman, Speaker Berri and Prime Minister Mikati, to hear their views and assessment of the current situation in Lebanon and the region.

Our meetings were very constructive and I was encouraged to hear about the reforms that the government has launched so far.

I was pleased to note that the Ministerial statement includes an explicit reference to deepening Lebanon's relations with the European Union. For its part, the European Union has welcomed the formation of the Government in July and expressed expectation that Lebanon will fulfil its international obligations and continue on its path to reform.

These international obligations include the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and international agreements, including on human rights, the process of international justice and effective cooperation with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Lebanon must provide a safe environment for UNIFIL to carry out its mandate, and ensure the protection of its citizens as well as foreigners and refugees on its soil.

We are witnessing historical changes in the region. People stood up for their rights and legitimate aspirations.

Today, democracy is being built where there was tyranny yesterday. And where there were fundaments of democracy, people are willing to deepen it: in order to regain dignity and their basic legitimate rights like freedom to express themselves.

This is a truly impressive process which goes for the benefit of all and Lebanon with its population should be part of it.

The EU is supporting this process and these aspirations so that every single person in Lebanon (but also anywhere else) can benefit from it.

We are very well aware of the many challenges Lebanon is facing: unity and stability of the country, national dialogue, complex relations with neighbours.

That’s why we have revised the European Neighbourhood policy: so that we could help in more effective way to deal with all those challenges.

We are offering this help to the government, to the political parties and to the civil society too, because in our new approach, the civil society is as important partner for us as the political interlocutors.

The events in the region have reminded us of the need to work jointly on reinforcing deep democracy in Lebanon. I discussed the EU's willingness to support electoral reform and other measures to consolidate the accountability and independence of all national democratic institutions.

The EU's revised approach to the European Neighbourhood Policy has underlined our commitment to work closer with countries that are ready to strengthen democracy and advance reforms. The more and faster Lebanon progresses in its internal reforms, the more support it will get from the EU.

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