The Council of the European Union issued a strong message to Lebanese parliamentarians Monday to expedite the process of electing a president. The message came in a statement which detailed the conclusions of a meeting held by the EU Council – a body which comprises relevant representatives from each member state – on Lebanon.
“The EU strongly reiterates its call on all political forces to take decisive action to elect a new President and put Lebanon’s stability and national interest ahead of partisan politics,” EU officials said, according to the release.
Lebanon has been without a president since the former incumbent Michel Sleiman left office May 26 last year. There have been almost two-dozen Parliament sessions to elect a president, all of which have not met the proper quorum to allow a vote to be held. The vacuum has resulted in fierce deadlock within Parliament and a stalemate on a number of key issues. The EU Council also expressed concern over how the stalemate was affecting donors.
“The EU urges the Parliament to meet for urgent legislative matters, including the implementation of international aid. This institutional stalemate has a negative impact also on the country’s economy. It is increasingly difficult for donors to operate in Lebanon in such conditions,” the statement said, adding that the “costs of the institutional stalemate are growing every day.”
However, the EU Council did “welcome recent steps to foster dialogue and conciliation,” which is likely in reference to a recent detente between opposing factions such as the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces; and Hezbollah and the Future Movement.
The EU Council also discussed Lebanon’s security situation and the Syrian refugee crisis. It highlighted the border policy introduced in January which stipulates that all refugees must fall under a certain visa category in order to be granted entry into the country.
“The EU takes note of Lebanon’s border policy introduced in January 2015 and other recent decisions and, at the same time, underscores the importance of upholding human rights and humanitarian principles,” the statement said. It also called “for a renewed commitment to the dissociation policy from all regional conflicts by all political parties in line with the Baabda Declaration.”
Hezbollah’s involvement in the war in Syria is considered a violation of the Baabda Declaration, signed in 2012, which called on Lebanon’s political factions to disassociate themselves from the conflict.