"Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
I am here to be with friends at a time when my Lebanese friends are living tragic times. The people of Lebanon are friends of the European Union and personal friends. I have been here in all the difficult moments in their present history and I wanted to be here at the first opportunity possible. As you know, Lebanon has a privileged relationship with the European Union and the EU wants to have a privileged relation with you. I have a personal relationship with Prime Minister Siniora. He is a man of good will and he deserves to be supported. Everything we want to do goes in this direction, of not weakening the Government of PM Siniora, on the contrary, of strengthening him. That is why I am here.

Coming here, one feels appalled by the suffering of so many innocent people, and by the destruction and destabilization that Lebanon does not deserve. Since the beginning of this crisis, I have been in contact with PM Siniora just about every day, with other leaders of the international community and the United Nations, to see how he can help your country in this very difficult moment.
We fully support the decision of the Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, to send a diplomatic mission to the region to see if we can move forward. Today, precisely, it is here.

Let me say that from our point of view, Israel should do the utmost not to enter into a logic of war, even as a response to actions that are provocations, very difficult to explain, and that we condemn. Entering a logic of war does not resolve the problems of the region, will not, and will continue to cause suffering among the people.
We would like the response to what we see as an unacceptable provocation to be in conformity to international law, in conformity to the principle of proportionality, compatible with respecting the lives of innocent civilians and not inflicting unnecessary suffering.

I want to strongly urge those who have the possibility to exercise influence to stop the violence, to do so and to do it immediately. They may be the same who have the possibility to use influence to achieve the release of the kidnapped soldiers. I ask them to do it rapidly, to do it now. Every day counts. This is an appeal coming from friends of your country. In Lebanon, the different leaders of the different forces should work together for all that supposes progress and forget any other idea that they might have. Their main objective should be to recuperate the peace and prosperity that once was there, then was broken and now we see the risk of it been broken again.

Europe has always supported the independence, the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of a free and prosperous country. To our mind, Resolution 1559 of UNSC describes very clearly the elements of freedom and sovereignty, to have a real state in Lebanon. I would like very much the Government to be empowered to be able to apply the resolution in full. The State alone has the monopoly of violence, of force. Nobody else. In a really democratic State it is the Government that has the responsibility of the use of force. Nobody else.
You know very well that we will stand by you. I hope to see you soon again after recuperating peace and prosperity. You deserve it.

Thank you

Question: About the possibility of mediation and negotiations to reach a ceasefire?
Response: I am not going to tell you about any potential way of solving what you have mentioned. My visit today here is a visit of friendship, of solidarity and support, and to see how we establish mechanisms with that objective. These mechanisms are also being looked at, as we speak right now, by the leaders of the G8 who are meeting in Saint Petersburg and are engaged in very similar efforts. As you see, there are many people making efforts to try to find a solution to this catastrophe of today. This is an effort that everybody will have to do, and I hope very much that we achieve it.

Question: L’obtention d’un cessez-le-feu est le premier objectif?
Réponse: Le premier objectif de ce voyage, c’est l’appréciation de la situation. Aujourd’hui j’ai rencontré le Premier Ministre et le Président du Parlement. Ce voyage est significatif. Je viens montrer physiquement ici à Beyrouth la solidarité de l’Union européenne. Je suis la première personne qui arrive ici au nom de la Communauté internationale et qui vient vous montrer notre engagement. Je voudrais souligner la déclaration du G8, dans quelques instants, où il y aura aussi un appel à la reconstruction et pour commencer à penser à une conférence de donateurs pour le Liban. Mais, pour faire ça il faut d’abord arriver à la paix, arriver à un cessez-le-feu, arriver à construire la confiance que permettra au Liban de se reconstruire.

Question. On the release of the Israeli soldiers, the timing and the statement of Chancellor Merkel.
Response: We have to be very clear. There are people who have influence in what has happened in the last period of time. I call upon them to cooperate in the liberation. Appeal once again to them. that would be a very important step to begin the process of de-escalation. The worse thing that can happen is if we enter the logic of war, the logic of escalation. That is what we have to try to do, de−escalate.

Question: Do you think that the liberation of the soldiers would be enough. It doesn’t seem to be the case listening and seeing the Israeli side?
Response: I cannot speak on behalf of Israel. I have not been there, I will probably go in the coming days. But I can tell you that a step of that nature would be a very important step in that direction.

Question: How serious do you think the situation is? Is it fair to blame de Government of Lebanon?
Response: I am very concerned about the evolution of the situation. In the Middle East you ignite a match and you do not know how the fire will end. That is why we have to stop it with acts of good will by everybody. The EU is trying to do that. The G8 is also trying. I hope that the people implicated do pay attention to all the messages, otherwise it will be very difficult to calm down the situation.
I do not think it is fair to blame the Lebanese Government The Government led by PM Siniora is trying to do and is doing a lot at this moment. We should not forget its origins: the assassination of an MP, a cruel assassination of my friend Hariri. The work that this government had in front of it was very difficult. PM Siniora is trying to do a lot, to construct a dialogue and it is true that the Government has to control the territory and all the functions. Territory means all: north, south, east and west. Functions mean all of them, including security. That is a function that in a democratic country is only attributable to the Government. If you do not have the power distributed all over the territory, you just do not have a country.

Question: Sur la demande de l’application de la résolution 1559 et les propos du PM Romano Prodi. Et sur les exigences inégales en matière d’application des résolutions au Proche Orient.
Response: I am not aware of what PM Prodi has said. I will refrain from making any comments. Je crois que l’application de la résolution 1559 serait très positive et constructive pour le peuple du Liban. La résolution est très positive parce que c’est la fin de l’occupation. C’est la libération du Liban de la présence d’un pays étranger. C’est la fin des milices, et aussi la possibilité de donner tout le pouvoir au gouvernement pour exercer ses responsabilités. C’est pour ça que la résolution est positive pour le peuple libanais.

Question: Why are you making this parallelism between the situation in the PA territories and Lebanon?
Response: I do not want to make an exact parallel between the situation in Palestine which is an occupied territory and here in Lebanon. They are not at the same level: with Lebanon we are talking about two states, while Palestine unfortunately is still not a state.

Question: Est-ce que vous avez des commentaires sur le fait qu’Israël vient de lancer des missiles sur les réserves de carburant de l’aéroport de Beyrouth.
Réponse: Je n’ai pas vu ces images. Je dirais que ce n’est pas une action qui va dans le sens que je viens de discuter avec vous. J’aimerais voir les choses évoluer dans la direction non pas d’entrer dans l’escalade, dans la dynamique de guerre, mais au contraire commencer à désamorcer la situation.

Question: Mais on n’étends que des paroles.....
Réponse: Aujourd’hui je suis ici au Liban pour me renseigner, parler et surtout écouter. Demain avec les ministres des affaires étrangères de l’Union européenne nous allons discuter après la réunion du G8 et voir comment nous pouvons commencer à vous aider. Ma présence ici est une preuve d’amitié et solidarité avec le peuple libanais.

Ref: S203/06