Lebanon’s foreign minister warns that his country should not be treated as a plaything by any country, as he continues his foreign tour aimed at securing the return of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is said to be under house arrest in Saudi Arabia after he was forced to resign.
“Lebanon is not a toy in others’ hands,” Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said at a joint press conference with his German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel, in Berlin on Thursday.
Bassil has been touring European capitals to lobby for Hariri’s return. The premier has been in Saudi Arabia since he shockingly announced his resignation in Riyadh on November 4.
Gabriel said he shared concerns about the threat of instability and bloodshed in Lebanon and, without mentioning Saudi Arabia directly, warned against the “adventurism” behind the Lebanon crisis and the “human tragedy in Yemen.”
“We expect that Prime Minister Hariri can come back to Beirut,” he added.
Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen since 2015 to restore its Riyadh-allied government, killing many thousands in the process.
Bassil, for his part, said, the “Hariri issue is actually a matter of Lebanon’s sovereignty,” and called on Arab countries to “not interfere with Lebanon’s internal matters.”
The Lebanese foreign minister also said further turmoil in his country, which is already hosting thousands of refugees fleeing violence in neighboring Syria, would create a new influx of asylum seekers to Europe.
Bassil also visited Turkey on Thursday and is to travel to Russia on Friday, where he is about to meet with Russia’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov.
At a joint presser with Bassil, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Hariri’s “immediate” return.
“We support Lebanon’s unity, integrity and stability, and we oppose any development that would risk Lebanon’s stability,” he said.
“Lebanon does not need any other problems. On the contrary, we need to contribute to the solution of the existing problems.”
Bassil also held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.