New York, 30 September 2015 - Deputy Secretary-General's closing remarks at Ministerial Meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon [as prepared for delivery]
The detailed chair's summary of today's meeting is being made available publicly. It recalls the continuing importance of the commitment of all Lebanese parties to Lebanon's policy of disassociation pursuant to the Baabda Declaration, and highlights three priority concerns.
First, we express our deep concern at the prolonged vacancy in the Presidency of the Republic. The status quo impairs the ability of the State to address the multiple challenges facing the country as well as to respond to the legitimate demands of Lebanese citizens. It also limits the amount and impact of international support to the country. We welcome initiatives launched to support dialogue between the parties, and urge all Lebanese leaders to put Lebanon's stability and national interests ahead of partisan politics and to act responsibly and flexibly to urgently elect a President.
Second, we highlight the ever more critical role played by the Lebanese Armed Forces and security forces in addressing the complex set of security challenges facing Lebanon resulting from the impact of the Syrian conflict, including the threat of extremist and terrorist groups.
This includes the deployment of new, better-equipped regiments along the Lebanon/Syria border and counter-terrorism operations, in extending the authority of the State and in working with UNIFIL to help maintain calm along the Blue Line. While encouraged that significant international support to the Lebanese Army has materialized, we note Lebanon's outstanding and long-term security requirements and urge Member States to offer additional assistance where the Army and security forces are most critically in need on an expedited and coordinated basis.
Third, we acknowledge the extraordinary burden Lebanon continues to bear in hosting close to 1.2 million registered refugees from Syria, and the severe challenges this poses for Lebanese communities and public institutions and services. We encourage enhanced efforts by Member States for greater international burden-sharing, noting the importance of such steps for the common security interests of all stakeholders, as well as expedited assistance for refugees and vulnerable communities. We stress our intention to continue to promote greater international assistance to Lebanon in relation to the refugee situation and socio-economic stabilization.
Finally, we emphasize that in order for international support to contribute to sustained stability, it must be paralleled by meaningful action by Lebanon's leaders to resolve the political stalemate and to respond to citizens' needs.
We look forward to future meetings with different configurations and levels as needed.
In closing, let me on a personal note say that we, above all, look forward to the end of the disastrous conflict in Syria, the possibility of return for great numbers of refugees to their ravaged home country and the normalization of conditions of life and governance in Lebanon, a country, to which we should demonstrate solidarity and loyalty in this time of trial and crisis.