Hariri: We won't 'hand over' Syrian refugees

Hariri: We won't 'hand over' Syrian refugees
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Thursday (Feb. 14) stressed that he and his political movement will always remain the “guardians” of the 1989 Taef Accord, which ended Lebanon’s civil war, as he emphasized that he will not accept to “hand over” the Syrian refugees to Damascus “as hostages,” Naharnet reported.

“Today, we gather, 14 years after the assassination crime, and 11 years after the start of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The dream of Rafik Hariri is still with us after all these years and his reconstruction, development and stability project is still being mentioned by each Lebanese who wants to see the country full of work,” said Hariri at Beirut’s Seaside Arena in a speech marking the 14th anniversary of the assassination of his father, ex-PM Rafik Hariri.

Hariri said that those who killed his father knew what it means “when a man like him, with his relations, capability and popularity, stands in the face of those who want to confiscate the decision of the country.”

Turning to the current period and the formation of the new government, Hariri said: “Today, we have a big workshop in the government and Parliament.”

Referring to recent controversy over the Taef Accord, Hariri emphasized that he “will not abandon Taef or accept the breach of Taef.”

“We are the guardians of the Taef agreement, today and tomorrow!” he stressed.

As for the thorny issue of Syrian refugees, Hariri said that the interest of the country lies in their return to their country in a “dignified and safe manner.”

“The best thing we can do for the displaced is to work for their return to their country, voluntarily, and I emphasize on the word voluntary. Our openness to the Russian initiative goes in this direction and the international community is required to take additional practical steps to end the tragedy of displacement and alleviate social, service-related and financial burdens from the state in all regions,” he added.

“I believe that the regime in Syria wants to take revenge on the displaced and is imposing conditions on their return,” Hariri noted.

“We cannot accept under any circumstances that our country be turned into a tool for handing over the displaced so they become hostages of the regime,” the premier underlined.

He also emphasized that Lebanon “is not a state affiliated with any axis and is not an arena for the arms race in the region.”

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