Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri received last night at the Center House the Lebanese Forces Chief Samir Geagea, accompanied by the acting Minister of Information Melhem Riachi, in the presence of Minister Ghattas Khoury.
After the meeting, Geagea said: "I came today to visit the Prime Minister-designate, to see what I can do to facilitate the formation of the government. We discussed the obstacles facing him and I am in full solidarity with him. We also discussed the situation in the country. On this occasion, I want to emphasize that the settlement that led to the election of General Michel Aoun as President of the Republic is a settlement that we are convinced of, and this is why we participated in it from the first moment, whether as a Future movement or as Lebanese Forces, and we will remain committed to it till the end.
Contrary to what some have tried to say in recent days, we fully support the presidency, and this has nothing to do with partisan sensitivities. Whatever we can do to make this term successful, we will not hesitate at all.
In this regard and in response to the demand of Prime Minister Hariri, I declare from here that we will stop any political rhetoric, whether related to the formation of the government or partisan. Of course, we will not stop talking in politics, in terms of general principles and propositions, but we will stop anything else, even if we are subjected to attacks or accusations, because we want to help Premier Hariri form the government.
We all know the economic situation in the country, thus all those who can offer something in this regard should do so without any delay. I declare that I will not respond to any accusations and will seek to resolve all the problems. One thing we cannot resolve is that we cannot downsize our self. We have a specific representative size and I do not think that any major official, whether the President, the Prime Minister or the Speaker, are attempting to downsize us. Other than that, we will try our best.
Question: How can you facilitate? Is it related to the portfolios and the post of deputy Prime Minister?
Geagea: The first thing is to refrain from responding to any offenses because no government can be formed in such an atmosphere. On the other hand, regarding the portfolios and sizes, the parliamentary elections produced them and this is not a private property.
Question: The Free Patriotic Movement considered that the only existing problem is the Lebanese Forces, which is asking for a share greater than its size. Is this true and are you going to facilitate the formation of the government?
Geagea: We are not the cause of the problem, but as I just said, we will not respond to any accusations. The president and the prime minister-designate form the government. No one can evaluate the other. I cannot say that Amal Movement that is represented by three ministers should be represent by two or four ministers and the same goes for other parties. The parties cannot evaluate each other but the President and the Prime Minister can do that because they have the results of the parliamentary elections and the political sizes.
Question: Minister Gebran Bassil says that according to logic you deserve four ministers, while you are demanding five ministers. What is the value of the Maarab understanding if the other side does not want it anymore?
Gegea: We stand by the Maarab understanding till the end and I will not enter into any argument. What I am saying is that there is someone in charge of the formation of the government. It is true that everyone gives his opinion, and it is better to keep them behind closed door. The President and the Prime Minister-designate are responsible of the formation of the government and they should do the appropriate thing.
In response to a question, Geagea said that "in order for the government to be formed, we have to stop the arguments because the government cannot be solved in the streets or while watching a football match. It is formed behind closed door and among those concerned".
Asked if they are working against the Presidential term, Geagea said that those who feel they are guilty are the ones who feel obliged to respond. He added: "We have been at the heart of the formation of this term and we believe in it and we will continue to do everything possible to make it successful. Many tell us that we brought Michel Aoun to power, and it is therefore in our best interest that he succeeds.
Asked if there was a veto against the Lebanese Forces, he said: As far as I know there is no veto from anybody. Let the President and the Prime Minister-designate form the government because we cannot all form the government.
Asked if the rapprochement between him and Premier Hariri is a Saudi initiative, Geagea said: "The Saudis are our friends and the friends of Premier Hariri and of many Lebanese. They have always been the friends of Lebanon, but does our rapprochement with Premier Hariri need the Saudis? It is only natural for this to happen between us."
After the meeting, Hariri held a dinner in honor of Geagea during which discussions continued.
Source: National News Agency