BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Friday said the influx of refugees into Europe was harming the continent’s diversity and values, and opened the door to terrorists.
“Immigration is not intended to do good to mankind, but instead (aims) to harm the diversity and forgiveness in Europe and dismantle the human values that the European Union is built on,” Bassil said in a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart Timo Soini in Helsinki.
He said the recent terror-linked arrests in Greece, Germany and France provided an example of the link between immigration and terrorism, something he said “traditional leaders” refused to acknowledge.
“This situation needs more stringent measures to be applied for a proper distinction between economic migrants and those who are truly in need of humanitarian aid,” he said, adding that the sources of terror funding must be dried out.
Bassil said the huge presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon was an existential threat to the country, adding that the crisis will also permanently change the Middle East’s social fabric.
The minister has made similar comments on numerous occasions, criticizing the lack of international support for Lebanon amid the crisis. He has called for the return of the refugees to safer areas inside war-torn Syria, or for their temporary settlement along the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Finland's Soini said his country appreciated the heavy burdens Lebanon was facing as a result of the crisis, adding that the Syrian war which “Lebanon has greatly been affected by" is very complex.
“We don’t know what will happen (in Syria), nobody knows, however we know one thing and that we must end terrorism, as it constitutes the main reason behind the (refugee) influx into Europe,” he said.
“We (Finland and Lebanon) are able to work together in the future ... as small countries are beneficiaries of the rule of law based on the international rule and multilateral cooperation,” he continued.
Soini added that he will be visiting Lebanon in August after being invited by Bassil.