EU calls on Lebanon's new Cabinet to act quickly to solve economic crisis

International leaders welcome election of Najib Mikati's government but warn of major challenges

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Lebanon's government needs to urgently address the dire economic crisis. EPA
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The international community welcomed news of Lebanon's new Cabinet on Friday, but urged the new grouping to work quickly to tackle the country's dire economic crisis.

The EU's representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said he welcomed the establishment of the new government, headed by billionaire Najib Mikati.

In a tweet, Mr Borrell said the country would need to address “current economic, financial and social crises, implement long overdue reforms, and prepare for elections in 2022".

UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Friday that the appointment of the new government is a “very important step” for the crisis-hit country, and wished Mr Mikati “the best success".

Mr Guterres added of the new government that “of course, it is not enough, there are many other things to be solved, but this was the basic condition for anything else to be possible".

“I wish that he is able to bring together the different Lebanese communities and the different Lebanese political forces in order to make sure that Lebanon is able to overcome the dramatic situation it faces now,” Mr Guterres told a press conference.

The US also expressed support for the formation of the new government, with State Department spokesman Ned Price "offering hope that urgent action will be taken to address the dire needs and legitimate aspirations of the Lebanese people". 

"We urge quick approval by the Parliament so that this new government can get to work on concrete reforms to address Lebanon’s deteriorating economic situation," Mr Price said. 

The outcome was also welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who said it was vital that Lebanon's politicians stuck to engagements necessary to undertake key reforms.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde urged the new government to tackle the country's socioeconomic crisis, and added that Sweden and the EU remained Lebanon's “dedicated partners".

On Friday, Lebanese leaders agreed on a new government led by Mr Mikati, a Sunni Muslim billionaire businessman, after a year of feuding over Cabinet seats that has exacerbated a devastating economic collapse.

The formation of the new government opens the way to a resumption of talks with the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Mikati, who takes office for the third time, made an emotional statement vowing to leave no stone unturned in efforts to save the country from bankruptcy.

The newcomers include many technocrats but each minister was endorsed by one or several of the factions that have dominated Lebanese politics since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Updated: September 10, 2021, 10:47 PM