The Netherlands continues contribution to stability in Lebanon
In the years ahead Lebanon can continue to count on Dutch support to increase stability in the fragile country. During a speech at a conference in Paris on Lebanon's economic development, trade and development minister Sigrid Kaag said that she will closely monitor whether the Lebanese government implements its announced reforms, tackles corruption and balances the budget.
The financial support will not go straight to the Lebanese government, but will be provided through projects coordinated by international organisations. Lebanon was the battleground of a 15-year civil war. The country has seen several political crises and has received over 1.5 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees. ‘The generosity of the Lebanese people is impressive,’ said Ms Kaag.
Economic reforms needed
Lebanon suffers from structural problems in relation to its economy and tax system. Both the national debt and unemployment rate are high. The country therefore urgently needs to modernise its economy. In her speech, Ms Kaag stressed that the international community, countries in the region and the private sector should all help it do so.
While in Paris the minister also met with Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri. In recent years, the Netherlands has made significant contributions to areas such as humanitarian assistance, education, employment, trade, security and the strengthening of stability.
Lebanon: a new focus country
In the coalition agreement Lebanon was designated as a new focus country for Dutch foreign policy. Support to the country will be increased as a result. This means that, over the next four years, the Netherlands will allocate around €200 million to assisting Lebanon. This amount could increase if Lebanon implements economic reforms and World Bank projects – to which the Netherlands has also contributed. The support pledged to Lebanon ties in with the contribution for reception in the region specified in the coalition agreement.
The conference was organised on the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron. Mr Hariri and Mr Macron closed the conference by addressing delegates.