Paris: The next three months will be fundamental for bringing about change in Lebanon, and if no change is forthcoming, punitive measures might ensue, French President Emmanuel Macron told POLITICO on Tuesday.
Macron told POLITICO that such possible punitive measures could range from withholding bailout money to sanctions on the ruling class.
Macron is currently on an official visit to Lebanon, during which he expected to lean on Lebanon’s fractious leaders to carry out economic reforms that are vital to getting the nation out of crisis and unlocking foreign aid.
He kicked off his trip on Monday, not by visiting political leaders, but by spending more than an hour with singing legend Fairouz, who at 85 is a rare unifying figure in Lebanon.
Macron was set to tick off more symbols to mark 100 years Tuesday since French mandate authorities proclaimed the creation of Greater Lebanon.
In the Jaj forest northeast of Beirut, he planted a cedar tree - Lebanon’s national symbol.
The French air force marked the centenary in Lebanon’s skies by leaving a trail of red, white and green smoke - the colours of the country’s flag.
Macron will return for a second visit to Beirut port, ground zero of the colossal blast that killed more than 180 people, wounded at least 6,500 others and laid waste to entire districts of the capital.
He will oversee the distribution of aid from the French helicopter carrier Tonnerre which arrived in Beirut on August 14.
Macron will also meet with some 400 French soldiers working with the Lebanese army to clear thousands of tonnes of debris from the port, vital for a country whose food is 85 per cent imported.