BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati defended over the weekend his nascent government’s track record in 2011, saying it had managed to protect Lebanon from regional developments as well as maintain its international credibility, and outlined some of the key objectives for his Cabinet in 2012.
“2011 was the year of regional change in #MENA, while we in #Lebanon have actively tried to maintain peace&stability,” Mikati said during a live question and answer session on Twitter Sunday.
“We were initially blamed for adopting a #Lebanese foreign policy of 'Dissociation' then, we were praised by ALL for having adopted it!” Mikati added.
On Aug.3, Lebanon disassociated itself after the fact from a U.N. Security Council presidential statement that condemned the violence against anti-government protesters in Syria. Beirut, however, voted against suspending Syria's membership at the Arab League on Nov. 10 after Damascus failed to end the crisis in its country.
Mikati, who was nominated prime minister designate in January 2011 following the collapse of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Cabinet over the controversial Special Tribunal for Lebanon, said he had also managed to maintain Lebanon’s international credibility by securing Lebanon’s share of funding toward the international court probing the assassination of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
“2011 also meant the financing of #STL - a matter of principle, justice & respect of #Lebanon's Intl. commitments (@STLebanon),” Mikati said, adding: “The respect of Lebanon's Intl. commitments is a 'package deal' & we have a vested interest in remaining an intrinsic part of Intl. Community.”
In late November, Mikati announced that Lebanon had paid its $36 million share of the annual funding for the STL. A week earlier, Mikati threatened to quit his post should the Hezbollah-led March 8 government fail to secure the funding.
In late June the U.N.-backed court indicted four members of Hezbollah in the assassination of Hariri. Hezbollah denies any involvement and accuses the international court of being part of an “U.S.-Israeli project” aimed at targeting the resistance group.
During his live Twitter session, Mikati listed the approval of an energy draft law as one of several accomplishments of his government in 2011.
“Also, 2011 meant 79 decrees/laws & key cabinet decisions incl. the Special Eco Zone & the ambitious Electricity plan, among others,” Mikati tweeted.
Mikati, who formed his government in late June, said he believed his centrist policy was the right one to follow.
“For me personally, 2011 proved 'Centrism' right: we can achieve more together by always putting #Lebanon's Ntl. interest+ALL #Lebanese First,” Mikati said.
Mikati said for 2012 his objectives were to maintain the country’s stability and continue capacity building of the Lebanese Army.
He also said he would seek in 2012 to resolve the minimum wage dispute, “noting that most countries around the world are now adopting austerity measures.”
The prime minister said other items for 2012 include the finalization of the draft electoral, “via the broadest possible concensus of ALL around it,” and the introduction of a transparent bidding process for oil and gas excavation.