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Mogherini has been visiting Lebanon regularly in the past years to reinforce the European-Lebanese partnership and is in Beirut today to meet President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri to reiterate this message. There are hundreds of EU funded projects on economic development, security and the rule of law that are aimed at benefiting the Lebanese people and strengthening the institutions.
The main message the High Representative would bring to Beirut is “you are finally up, even if you are probably not yet up and running, but you are finally up and walking," Mogherini said last week following the Foreign Affairs Council.
"Focus on what you need to do for your country; try to keep distance from regional conflicts, and we will be at your side both, on the security, on the economic, on the internal challenges you are facing to make sure that Lebanon manages not only to survive but also to live well – as, I know, Lebanese people love to do and manage to do actually pretty well,” the High Representative said.
"We will also continue to accompany Lebanon in its solidarity towards Syrian people fleeing the crisis. The next Brussels II Conference on supporting the future of Syria and the region will be the opportunity to channel more support from the international community for Lebanon," Mogherini said.
Addressing the daily problems of the Lebanese citizens
When two years ago the Lebanese people took to the streets to ask their institutions to act on the garbage crisis, the European Union was there as a long-time partner. The EU funded several waste management and waste collection facilities to help the government address a pressing problem that affects the daily life of its citizens in a concrete manner, while also working on the political level to facilitate a way out of a crisis that was paralyzing the institutions of the country. In the same way, today the European Union is there to assist the country and its people where and when is most needed, both on the internal and external challenges that the country faces.
And the institutions of the country are responding to the needs of their citizens. Two European Union funded sorting plants in the Beirut area could process up to 45 percent of the waste, while this summer the largest solid waste treatment plant in the country was opened in Tripoli, in the north of the country.
Fifteen other similar plants will be constructed or extended across Lebanon in the near future because the government, and thus the EU, identified waste management as a priority for its citizens. Not only for the obvious environmental and health reasons, but also because this project could create up to 600 new jobs and more to come.
Alternative fuel from solid waste can even address the electricity shortages that afflict millions of people and businesses and that are unfortunately another constant feature of daily life in Lebanon. While private houses experience at least three hours of blackout a day, social enterprises for farmers and food distribution companies can face an average of 10 hours a day of electricity cut-off.
Solar plants and renewable energy projects implemented by the Lebanese government and the EU – through UNDP – are addressing the problem so that these companies can boost the exports and the image of "Made in Lebanon" and create jobs for Lebanese people.
"Lebanon is like a cat, nine lives and probably many more. And like cats, you always land on feet, luckily," the High Representative joked with her Lebanese friends earlier this month praising the resilience of the Lebanese people.
"The international community – starting from the European Union – will continue to support Lebanon on its way of wisdom, restraint and focus on the Lebanese people's priorities," Mogherini said.