BEIRUT: European Union official Elmar Brok said over the weekend Hezbollah and other parties should abide by Lebanon’s policy of disassociation from the ongoing conflict in Syria, adding that he was surprised by the resistance group’s refusal to form a neutral Cabinet.
“I was astonished to hear yesterday Mr [Sayyed Hasan] Nasrallah's statement closing the door for the formation of a neutral government,” Brok, the Chairman of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a joint news conference in Maarab with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
“I hope that every political force in this country shows the responsibility for a plural and stable political system on the basis of the constitution,” he added.
“As was agreed by the EU Foreign Ministers last Monday, all parties including Hezbollah should act responsibly and fully abide by the Baabda Declaration and Lebanon's dissociation policy,” Brok who met with the country’s top three officials added.
The Baabda Declaration, an agreement between rival political groups, and the government’s policy of disassociation stipulate that Lebanon should remain at a distance from regional conflict particularly the crisis in neighboring Syria.
The March 14 coalition along with Geagea has said that the presence of Hezbollah fighters in Syria is a violation of the Baabda Declaration which the resistance group has previously agreed to.
Brok, who was accompanied by EU MP Frank Heinrich, was referring to Nasrallah’s televised address Friday when he warned President Michel Sleiman and the Prime Minister-designate against forming a fait accompli Cabinet, outright rejecting a neutral type of government.
Nasrallah reiterated his party’s support for a national unity government. He also said his participation in the Syrian battles alongside regime forces is a final decision which his party would never reverse.
Speaking to reporters after his two-hour meeting with Geagea, Brok said it was important for Lebanon to elect a new president according to constitutional deadlines in order for the new president to form a government capable of demilitarizing what he described as "terrorist organizations."
During his two-day visit to Beirut, Brok also touched on the two-year-old conflict in Syria, saying the EU acknowledged the “tremendous social and economic burden on Lebanon and other neighboring countries” as a result of the crisis.
He said the EU has so far mobilized 2 billion euros for aid since the beginning of the conflict.
“The EU fully supports a political solution in Syria and will exert all efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, including humanitarian access inside Syria,” he said.
Brok, who expressed the EU’s willingness to help Lebanon overcome the repercussions from the neighboring crisis, also visited a UNHCR refugee registration center where he spoke with Syrian refugees about their personal struggle.
He also expressed hope that Christians would have a bright future in Lebanon given that the situation of Lebanese Christians reflects on the situation of other Christians in the region.
He added that it was the EU's duty to encourage Christians to remain in their land.
“Europe will support a safe future for the Christians in the Arab world and Lebanon plays an important role as an example,” Brok said during the conference.
Addressing reporters after his meeting with caretaker PM Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail, Brok expressed dismay over Nasrallah's remarks and over Hezbollah’s unwillingness to cooperate or to contribute to preserving stability.
He also said Hezbollah was active in Syria and unwilling to be part of a future solution, noting that the future of Lebanon was a major responsibility for the resistance group.
Heinrich said Lebanon could be a model for the region and that political leaders should reach a consensus to elect a new president as soon as possible.
"I will relay the picture of the situation in Lebanon as well as some messages from some people to my country particularly the EU Human Rights Committee," he told reporters after meeting Geagea.
Brok and Heinrich also met with Sleiman and Speaker Nabih Berri separately.