In response to recent accusations that he has accepted a “bribe” from the European Union (EU) in exchange for hosting displaced Syrians in Lebanon, Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s media office issued a statement, debunking the claims and emphasizing the genuine nature of the EU’s support.

Mikati bemoaned what he described as a “political and media campaign” aimed at undermining the caretaker government’s efforts in handling the refugee crisis.

“The talk about a European bribe to Lebanon to keep the refugees on its land is not true,” stated Mikati, refuting bribery allegations circulating in various political circles.

He emphasized that the EU’s assistance, totaling one billion dollars, is unconditional and solely intended for the benefit of Lebanon and its people. The aid package encompasses vital sectors such as health, education, and social protection, as well as support for the Lebanese Armed Forces and security agencies to reinforce border control.

Mikati also highlighted the importance of the diplomatic efforts undertaken by his government to address the refugee issue, cautioning against the potentially dire consequences not only for Lebanon but for the broader region and Europe. He reiterated his commitment to enforcing Lebanese laws, including the deportation of those residing illegally in the country.

Mikati urged unity among Lebanese factions in supporting the government’s approach to resolving the refugee crisis, dismissing what he termed “empty media campaigns” that only serve to exacerbate political tensions and hinder meaningful progress.

Addressing concerns over seasonal migration decisions made by the EU, Mikati said that Lebanon’s participation was not intended to encourage emigration but rather to provide legal avenues for seasonal job opportunities abroad, aligning with measures adopted by neighboring countries like Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia.

The European Union granted Lebanon a one billion euro package over four years to support its “socio-economic stability” in Lebanon” in view of hosting no less than 2 million displaced Syrians, the majority of whom are residing illegally. Under the deal reached between Mikati, President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, the Lebanese people could go to EU countries on “seasonal work.”