In a first visit of a German president to Lebanon in 120 years, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will arrive in Beirut at the end of January, upon an invitation by President Michel Aoun and will also meet with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Speaker Nabih Berri and inspect the German naval force and the UNIFIL working in South Lebanon.
The Lebanese presidency pays special attention to Steinmeier’s visit on January 29-31, as talks will focus on the general situation and ways to strengthen Lebanese-German relations in all fields, according to a statement by the presidential office.
The meetings of the German president have a great political and economic importance to Lebanon, especially since they come before three major conferences to support the country, including the Brussels 2 Conference on the Displaced, the Paris 4 economic conference, and Rome II conference to support the military and security institutions.
During her meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Berlin in May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “Germany is the second largest donor to Lebanon, providing financial support of more than 286 million euros last year (2016). We are supporting Lebanon to face this crisis [of the displaced] and trying to use this crisis to revive the economic dynamic in the region.”
“The main task is to help refugees, but also the host countries, because they carry the burden of hosting Syrian refugees. Therefore, the international community must address not only the problem of refugees, but also that of host countries,” she stated.
During the latest Brussels conference, Germany pledged $2.3 billion to the displaced people in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan for the 2017-2020 period. Germany’s aid to Lebanon was estimated at $1 billion since 2015.
In this context, President of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry in Lebanon, Mohamed Choucair, said that the consolidation of the relationship with Germany and the visit of its president to Lebanon should positively affect the economic relations between the two countries.