Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk reiterated on Wednesday the Lebanese rejection of naturalization of Syrians, calling on leaders never to undermine Lebanon whatever the circumstances.

Machnouk spoke at the opening of the Arab Banking Conference at the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut. He read the speech of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, whose presence at the congress was cancelled after the death of his mother.

Minister Mashnouk first tackled the visit of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the President of the World Bank and the president of the Islamic Development Bank to Lebanon. He then recalled that contracts worth USD 350 million were signed with the Islamic Development Bank, and the World Bank had provided immediate aid of USD 100 million to the education sector, not to mention the promises of interest-free credits and long-term development projects.

Machnouk particularly highlighted the importance of the visit of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, who has pledged to pursue aid for Lebanon, upon the recommendations of the London Conference.

“The visit is of major importance as it confirms the interest shown by the international community to the stability of Lebanon and its commitment to help addressing the burden of Syrian refugees”, he said, regretting “the statements made at the end of the visit to question the intentions of the international community and to accuse it of wanting to naturalize Syrians in Lebanon.”

The Minister reiterated, always in the name of Premier Salam, Lebanon’s refusal to naturalizing Syrians on its soil, “the latter having to return home as soon as the reasons that led them to leave their countries are eliminated.”

“Let’s stop scaring the Lebanese with the specter of naturalization! (…) Let’s stop using national priorities as if we were in an endless election campaign. Let’s put an end to bidding wars that worsen the political crisis in the country,” he stressed.

“Foreign policies of countries are drawn in accordance with national interests. (…) It is shameful for Lebanon to ask for help to shoulder the burden of the Syrian presence, then to question, once this aid is provided, the intentions of those who made it possible. It is also shameful to beg for support for Lebanon and the host societies of Syrians then announce that this support is to naturalize refugees. These actions undermine Lebanon, its interests and its credibility,” he continued.

He also cautioned against weakening the country’s structure with the presidential vacuum that has lasted almost two years, calling for “awareness to save the country” and emphasizing the importance of the banking sector, “one of the strongholds of Lebanon.”

Machnouk did not fail at the beginning of his speech to thank the Union of Arab Banks for organizing this event in Beirut. He also paid tribute to the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council “and the Saudi King, for all they have done to Lebanon over the years”, ensuring that the Lebanese have always been grateful for that support.

In his delivered word, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh noted that banks and financial institutions in our region are currently facing an assortment of challenges, including those resulting from the political and security situation in the Arab countries, and others caused by changes in the banking business as a result of improvised standards.

Salameh also indicated that good governance, transparency and distribution of risks increased confidence in the monetary sector in Lebanon and led to the provision of liquidity in the Lebanese market, thus enabling Lebanon to provide funding for the public and private sectors.

Salameh stressed that the Central Bank’s policy shall continue to be based on preventing the bankruptcy of any bank regardless of its size, saying that the law related to the merging of banks helps the Central Bank to realize such an end.

Minister Hakeem then inaugurated the exhibition held at the sidelines of the conference, whereby he gave a comprehensive overview of the Arab economic and banking complemntarity.

The Minister highlighted the importance of Arab economic and banking complementarity in a bid to achieve stability and economic development.

Source: National News Agency

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Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk reiterated on Wednesday the Lebanese rejection of naturalization of Syrians, calling on leaders never to undermine Lebanon whatever the circumstances. Machnouk spoke at the opening of the Arab Banking Conference at the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut. He read the speech of Prime Minister Tammam Salam,...