Prime Minister Saad Hariri Hariri chaired today at the Grand Serail the meeting of the Council of ministers, in the absence of Ministers Marwan Hamade, Ali Hassan Khalil, Nohad Machnouk, Gebran Bassil, Yaacoub Sarraf, Melhem Riachy, Raed Khoury and Pierre Raffoul.
After the meeting, the Minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury read the official decisions:
“The Council of ministers held a session today, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail. At the beginning, the Prime Minister said: The words of President Aoun in Riyadh truly represent all the Lebanese and the stance of the Lebanese state towards the Arab brothers. Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s visit is an important step on the road to deepen the relations, remove ambiguities and fix the problems that prevailed during the last period. The president is at the level of this responsibility, and we will be by his side in everything that serves the interests of Lebanon and its distinguished role among his brothers.
The visit was historic and successful by all criteria. The friendship expressed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz towards Lebanon, the President and the Lebanese in general, is not strange from the part of the Kingdom and its leadership that always stood by Lebanon and its people and was the first supporter of its security, stability and coexistence, away from outside interference.
PM Hariri also praised the decisions of the last Council of Ministers in Baabda, especially the appointments at the Ministry of Communications, which we want to be a serious gateway to improve the telecommunications sector and its services. The citizen should feel the improvement in the coming months and the services must be provided to him with the best terms and prices.
The Council of ministers then discussed the items on the agenda, and approved most of them. A few were postponed because of the presence of some of the concerned ministers with the president”.
Afterwards, minister Khoury responded to the reporters’ questions:
Question: Why was the oil item postponed?
Khoury: It was postponed due to the presence of the concerned ministers with the President in his tour.
Question: There is no political dispute about it?
Khoury: No, there is not any political dispute.
Question: During the meeting, there was a tweet from MP Walid Jumblatt about the risk resulting from the presence of birds around Rafic Hariri’s Airport. Was this issue addressed during the meeting?
Khoury: The birds were not mentioned in the meeting.
Question: Is there a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Works in this regard?
Khoury: The prime minister can hold a meeting with any of the ministers after the end of the session to discuss any matter, and I was not tasked to talk about this topic.
Question: Are there specific dates for the Council of Ministers sessions in the Serail?
Khoury: The next session will be at the presidential palace if the President is present in the country.
Question: On the issue of refugees, what happened during the meeting?
Khoury: There used to be a crisis cell, but now a ministerial committee has been formed, headed by the prime minister and the participation of the competent ministers like the ministers of Social Affairs, Health, Education, Public Works, Displaced and Interior.
Question: So the previous committee has been dissolved?
Khoury: There was no previous committee, just a cell. All the committees that existed in the previous government were reconsidered and competent ministers were added. And when a committee is headed by the prime minister, all ministers have to attend and cannot send representatives.
Question: will this committee start its work from scratch?
Khoury: We have a million and a half refugees, how will we start from scratch? We are going to continue what was started, but the Lebanese state must have a strategy and negotiate collectively, instead of every ministry seeking the support of the international community. We want an integrated policy defended by the state and to demand the rights of the refugees, and the rights of the residents who are making a great effort in hosting these groups.
Hariri received after the end of meeting of the council of minister the Minister of Public Works and Transport Youssef Fenianos, who said:
“For a week or more, we have been reading in the newspapers and hearing in the media news that the civil aviation’s safety at Beirut airport is threatened, in particular due to the presence of gull birds because of the costa Brava dump.
We raised this issue today in the meeting and asked for an appointment from his Excellency. We met and I explained the issue to him and he contacted immediately the Council of Development and Reconstruction to do all it takes to keep the birds far from the airport”.
He explained that ultrasonic bird repellers had earlier been installed in Costa Brava and at the airport. As their number was not sufficient, PM Hariri asked to increase it. But the CDR has been tasked to find the best solution.
Prime Minister Hariri sent a message to the Prime Ministers of Italy, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Bolivia and Ethiopia, congratulating them on their election as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Hariri also sent a message to the president of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa ben Zayed Al Nahyan, offering his condolences for the Emirati victims who fell in the bombing in Kandahar.