Lebanese President Michel Aoun hinted on Friday that his country would engage with Damascus to organize the return of Syrian refugees in case Europe does not change its policy in facilitating their return via the United Nations.
During his meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell Fontelles at the Baabda Palace on Friday afternoon, Aoun found it regrettable that the European Union was not taking an encouraging position regarding the return of displaced Syrians.
"Lebanon is looking forward to a change in the European position in terms of facilitating the return of Syrian refugees under the supervision of the international community,” the President said in hopes of avoiding undesirable repercussions in case Lebanon is urged to take steps to organize the refugee return with the Syrian government.
“Lebanon has so far secured the return of 194,000 Syrian refugees to their homeland. There were no reports of any harassment or maltreatment in Syria,” Aoun said.
For his part, the Spanish Minister stressed his country's solidarity with Lebanon on the issue of the Syrian refugees’ return to their country.
Following his meeting with Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Borrell said his country wants to see Syrian refugees returning to their homeland as soon as possible and that Spain was in favor of helping the displaced who are willing to return home.
However, the minister said Madrid could only work on accelerating this return within the framework of the EU.
Lebanon has failed to convince European countries to help organize the return of Syrian refugees back to their homeland as the EU had said it wants to see a political solution to the Syrian crisis before mass returns take place.
Meanwhile, the Spanish minister lauded Aoun’s efforts to promote Lebanon at the economic, development, and social levels.
"We deem the decisions and recommendations of CEDRE conference as a great opportunity for Lebanon, which demonstrates the confidence of the international community in Lebanon’s potentials," Borrell said from Baabda.