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French Version

European Union to review Lebanese reforms

Progress will be assessed when new government is elected mid-year

The European Union will review action taken to reinforce democracy and economic reforms in Lebanon with the new Lebanese government that will emerge after spring parliamentary elections, an official at the EU said Wednesday.

"If the government is legal then we will negotiate with it," the official told The Daily Star.

He added that the EU dealt with all previous governments in Lebanon with no exception.

According to a press release by the EU delegation in Lebanon, the action plan will take into account joint commitments to specific actions that reinforce adherence to shared values in areas of democracy and the rule of law as well as the administration of justice and human rights.

The official said Lebanon was till far better than many regional states in terms of democracy and respect of human rights despite the events of the past few days.

He declined to say what action the EU will take against Lebanon if the rules of democracy and economic reforms were not applied but hinted that if the government's argument was not convincing the 25-member bloc may freeze some of its assistance to Lebanon.

The official said the EU has been urging the Lebanese government to speed up economic and administrative reforms over the past few years.

The EU has granted Lebanon financial and technical assistance to both the Lebanese government and the private sector.

Lebanon also joined the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Accord in June 2002, allowing the Lebanese private sector to export more goods to the European continent.

The EU made significant contributions to the rehabilitations of government agencies.

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said in a press release that "The European Neigborhood Policy gives us the opportunity to take our relationship with Lebanon up a gear."

Waldner said she was looking forward to working with the Lebanese government to develop an action Plan as a joint agenda.

"Progress in our relationship will reflect the efforts and successes of the country itself," Ferrero-Waldner said.

Beirut,03 07 2005
Osama Habib
The Daily Star
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