Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri said Wednesday, November 21 the partnership accord which Beirut is to sign with the European Union (EU) within two weeks would act as a catalyst for Lebanon's economic revival.
"The signing of this agreement is also a distinctive phase in Lebanon's modern history," Hariri said at the inauguration of new administrative offices at Beirut Port. "Lebanon will be on a par with the countries of the international community and will be able to activate its economy through that of the world's powerful economic blocs," he said.
"The European Union is the largest economic bloc in the world in terms of population and economic possibilities, not to mention that it is closest to us," he said. Hariri said the accord would be a catalyst for revival in Lebanon, where the public debt has spiraled to about $25 billion.
During a visit to Lebanon on Monday, European Commission President Romano Prodi said Lebanon and the EU will sign a partnership agreement within two weeks in Brussels. Negotiations for the agreement started in November 1995.
Upon returning to power in November 2000, Hariri expressed his wish to re-launch negotiations with the EU that had been frozen for five years, with the aim of reaching agreement in 2001. To remove obstacles in the way of agreement, Hariri also ordered a lowering of customs. — (AFP, Beirut)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )