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Lebanese press round-up: June 5, 2012

Press round-up for Tuesday, June 5th from the morning edition of Lebanon’s An-Nahar, Al-Akhbar, As-Safir, and Ad-Diyar newspapers.

Note: There is no press round-up on Sundays

  • Opening Titles

Four European foreign ministers in Beirut to support stability.

Economic committees raise their voice: “The country has all but stopped working.”

March 14 forces submit to Sleiman a four-point memorandum on dialogue.

Mikati signs a decree appointing five members of the Higher Judicial Council.

  • Local News

Lebanon is the center of international attention amidst permanent fears of experiencing the repercussions of the Syrian crisis. The international interest took the shape of four European ministers who will be visiting Beirut in the next couple of weeks.

This string of visits is expected to start with that of German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle who will be arriving in Beirut this Thursday amidst continuing preparations for the “tripartite tour” by the foreign ministers of Sweden, Poland and Bulgaria.

These visits come under the slogan of “expressing sympathy with Lebanon at this critical stage it is going through, especially as the Syrian crisis on its threshold is growing worse,” as a European diplomat based in Beirut and Damascus told An-Nahar.

Under the headline “so that we preserve our economy,” economic committees held a meeting during which they warned against the dangers threatening the economic situation, and not only during the tourist season.

Former PM Saad Hariri praised the committees’ calls to save Lebanon’s economy, and remarked: “Economic committees said today [yesterday] that the country has all but stopped working, which is a painful contradiction with martyred PM [Rafik Hariri’s] slogan “The country is working and work is [going well].”

Former PM Saad Hariri said: “The Syrian regime wants to divert attention [from it] and ignite a sectarian conflict in Lebanon and Syria, and it will fail.” Hariri denounced “any attack on any Alawi store in Tripoli, as this merely serves the sectarian plan of the Syrian regime.”

Former PM Fouad Siniora told An-Nahar that March 14 forces are preparing a memorandum, which they will submit to President Michel Sleiman before June 11.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea told the Central News Agency that it is necessary to provide the minimum elements of a serious dialogue, which the March 14 delegation visiting Baabda will discuss “as a final attempt with President Sleiman.”

Sources told An-Nahar that the memorandum will include four essential points, namely: Forming a neutral salvation government, establishing weapons as the key issue of dialogue, shielding Lebanon from the policy of regional axes and emphasizing the LAF’s role.”

During PM Najib Mikati’s visit to Bkirki, Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai reiterated his support for national dialogue. An-Nahar has learned that the key issue discussed during the meeting was [about] managing the state.

The management of state affairs was also the focus of Minister of State for Administrative Development Mohammad Fneish, Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Energy Minister Gebran Bassil who met with President Sleiman and PM Mikati, and discussed with them a series of solutions to all issues, including appointments, Tripoli and the financial issue.

A minister told An-Nahar that the atmosphere was positive and that an agreement was reached in principle on going beyond complications and providing solutions to promote cabinet action, which will emerge in the cabinet session Wednesday.

An-Nahar has learned that PM Mikati signed a decree appointing five judges as members of the Higher Judicial Council and transferred it to the president. Sources told An-Nahar that they believe this decree will be adopted without any hurdles.


  • Opening Titles

The cabinet agrees on ensuring [its] survival.

  • Local News

Extended meetings were held yesterday at the Presidential Palace, the Serail and Bkirki respectively. Al-Akhbar has learned that these meetings addressed a series of ideas to promote cabinet action and productivity.

The meetings led to an agreement that is almost complete in order to promote cabinet action. Contacts are to continue over the next couple of days in order to add the finishing touches.

Sources told Al-Akhbar that Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai followed up on the agreement reached among the parties to the cabinet and expressed his satisfaction in this respect, knowing that he had previously voiced his support for continuing cabinet action.

March 8 ministerial sources asserted to Al-Akhbar that the ongoing cabinet contacts aim to resolve deadlocked issues “on the financial and administrative levels”, knowing that the contacts undertaken by PM Najib Mikati will include the National Struggle Front. 

Following his meeting with Patriarch Rai, PM Mikati asserted that “the cabinet is ongoing and is fully taking on its responsibilities,” adding: “The cabinet is not as important as the state, and we fear that any potential void will affect the state.”

Head of European Union Delegation to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst expressed European support [for dialogue] by praising the president’s call for [resuming national] dialogue.

  • Opening Titles

European support for dialogue; security services get almost all telecom data.

The cabinet in the first year of hampering: Settling expenditure.

  • Local News

The consultations held over the past few hours led to the emergence of new elements with regard to the financial expenditure. These elements are expected to lead to a solution, which will take shape in the Council of Ministers’ session to be held Thursday morning at the Baabda Presidential Palace instead of Wednesday.

Ministerial sources told As-Safir that the atmosphere of the consultations led by Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Minister of State for Administrative Development Mohammad Fneish and Energy Minister Gebran Bassil were noticeably positive and resulted in a consensus on a solution to the cabinet expenditure.

The independent committee chaired by Judge Hatem Madi and tasked with settling the legality of eavesdropping met to discuss the telecommunications data.

As-Safir has learned that the committee made an “extremely secret decision” to grant the data, albeit not for all of Lebanon as some security services were demanding, but rather over a two-month period and within a medium range that is wider than previous times.


  • Opening Titles

Lebanese debate for and against Nasrallah’s proposed constituting conference.

The series of deporting Lebanese [expatriates] continues: 10 businessmen are expelled from the UAE.

Mikati from Bkirki: The cabinet is going on; Kahwaji to Tripoli figures: We are committed to security in the city.

  • Local News

Sources told Ad-Diyar that Emirati authorities have recently expelled 10 Lebanese businessmen from the United Arab Emirates without prior warning and without mentioning the causes underlying the decision.

According to the sources, this decision was preceded by several ones, albeit on a lower scale. It is likely to have a great impact on the number of workers at these ten companies, which employ more than 300 Lebanese nationals.

A diplomatic source told Ad-Diyar that diplomatic appointments are almost ready and that a complication is still deadlocked between the Maronite and Orthodox communities over a diplomatic position in a key state.

According to the source, “reservations and remarks were expressed on a candidate proposed by General Michel Aoun, and the matter can be resolved in the coming days.”

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said that March 14 forces are making a last attempt with President Michel Sleiman to provide a minimum of elements for a serious and calm national dialogue. These elements will be discussed by the March 14 delegation that will visit Baabda.

March 14 leaders will reportedly meet today to put the finishing touches to the memorandum to be submitted to President Sleiman.

Sources reported last night that positive developments occurred with regard to the 11 Lebanese nationals kidnapped in Syria. However, they failed to make any clear revelation in this respect against a backdrop of utmost secrecy shrouding this issue, as contacts are being made away from the media limelight.