The international community must continue to promote a political solution to the crisis, based on Assad’s exit from the scenario and, to that end, support the Opposition Coalition set up on Doha. This was the Italian position reiterated today by foreign minister Giulio Terzi in a meeting in Rome with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. He then reassured Premier Mikati of Italy’s enduring commitment, also in the context of the EU, to limiting the political, social and humanitarian repercussions of the Syrian conflict in Lebanon.
130.000 refugees in Lebanon
Deep concern was expressed during the meeting, particularly over the dramatic humanitarian consequences of the crisis in Syria. According to estimates, there are more than 130,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon which, according to Terzi and Mikati, has created an emergency that could impact heavily on the Lebanese economy and on the country’s ability to attract tourism and investments. In that context, the head of Italian diplomacy pointed out that Italy was intensifying its efforts on behalf of the Syrian refugees through the over one million euro in aid that had been distributed over recent months for the benefit of the women and children being sheltered in Lebanon.
Concrete solidarity with Turkey
The Terzi-Mikati meeting took place on the day after the meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, focused principally on the situation in Syria, where it was decided to deploy the Patriot missiles requested by Ankara to defend its border with Syria. According to Terzi, the initiative serves solely as a demonstration of concrete solidarity with Turkey, a NATO member, and “has nothing to do with the establishment of a no-fly zone or is in any way to be construed as preparation for military action against the Syrian regime”. NATO cited the eventual use of chemical weapons by Damascus as a red line uncrossable even in the opinion of Russia, which warned it would not accept any violation of international treaties.