EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned on Saturday that Lebanese leaders could face sanctions unless they pull the country out of financial collapse and strike a deal with the IMF.
Lebanon is facing what the World Bank has described as one of the world’s worst economic crises since the 1850s.
A political crisis has left the country without a functioning government since the last time it resigned after a massive explosion killed dozens and destroyed swathes of Beirut in August 2020.
Speaking in Beirut after talks with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Borrell said he had “a message of firmness to all Lebanese political leaders on behalf of the EU”.
“The crisis facing Lebanon is an internal crisis, a self-imposed crisis, not a crisis coming from abroad or from external factors,” he said.
“Lebanese leaders must take responsibility… a government must be formed and key reforms implemented immediately. “
The EU foreign policy chief said the bloc was ready to help Lebanon embark on reforms, but only after an agreement has been reached with the International Monetary Fund.
“Only an urgent agreement with the IMF will save the country from financial collapse (…) and there is no time to waste,” he said.
“You are on the verge of financial collapse. “
But Borrell added that if “other obstacles to solutions” were to emerge, the EU “should consider other action plans as some member states have proposed”.
“The EU Council has included other options, including targeted sanctions… we prefer not to go this route… but it is in the hands of the Lebanese leadership,” Borrell said.
In April, France imposed sanctions by restricting the entry into its territory of Lebanese personalities, according to it, responsible for the political crisis.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at the time that discussions were underway with France’s European partners on ways to increase pressure on the Lebanese who “are an obstacle to an end to the crisis” .
© 2021 AFP