BEIRUT: German Chancellor Angela Merkel told visiting Prime Minister Najib Mikati Thursday that all Western states were working hard in an attempt to insulate Lebanon from the repercussions of the 16-month turmoil in Syria.
Merkel spoke at a joint news conference in Berlin following talks with Mikati centering on the situation in Lebanon, bilateral relations, the uprising in Syria and developments in the Middle East.
Describing her talks with Mikati as “fruitful,” she said the crisis in Syria would not be allowed to affect Lebanon.
“All states are working hard to organize life in Lebanon so that there can be stability and economic development,” she said. “All efforts are exerted to achieve understanding among the Lebanese so that Lebanon will not be affected by what is happening in neighboring states.”
Merkel, whose country is participating with a naval force in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, said Germany wanted to help Lebanon in all fields and to be “a good partner of the Lebanese government and the Lebanese people.”
She said economic and environmental cooperation between Germany and Lebanon had also been discussed.
Addressing Mikati, Merkel said: “We know that there are problems that must be overcome. We hope, your Excellency the prime minister, that you will continue your efforts in order to achieve what your country is aspiring for.”
Referring to the ongoing unrest in Syria, Merkel said that “the use of violence has become very tragic and the regime of President Bashar Assad must bear responsibility.”
She added that the international community was working toward a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria.
However, Merkel said that Germany believed it would be “very difficult” to achieve a peaceful solution with Assad at the helm. “The best solution is through a direct dialogue, which is at present difficult,” she said.
For his part, Mikati said Merkel had shown understanding and expressed support for the Lebanese government’s policy to dissociate Lebanon from the repercussions of developments in the region, particularly in Syria.
“Germany is keen on maintaining stability in Lebanon and preventing it from being exposed to dangers beyond its capacity,” Mikati said.
He assured Merkel that the situation in Lebanon was stable despite some security incidents that occurred every now and then.
Mikati’s first visit to Germany as prime minister came amid growing foreign and local fears of a spillover of the turmoil in Syria into Lebanon following a series of deadly security incidents on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Mikati said Lebanon and Germany shared “a bitter and tough experiment” with regard to wars and their horrors. He added that Germany was one the most efficient states that understand the problems in Lebanon and the Middle East.
“We hope that Germany will have a major contribution toward tackling the situation in the region wisely in such a way as to protect the peoples’ right to develop their societies and systems as they deem fit,” Mikati said.
He added that he discussed with Merkel Germany’s role in helping the Lebanese Army in training and equipment in order to bolster its capabilities.
Mikati arrived in Germany Wednesday accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour, Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas and Environment Minister Nazem Khoury.