EU Ambassadors express strong support for UNIFIL’s mission in south Lebanon
A fifteen-member delegation of Ambassadors and senior officials from the European Union (EU) visited UNIFIL’s headquarters and area of operations today, including a briefing at the Blue Line.
UNIFIL’s Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Aroldo Lázaro, received the delegation in Naqoura and thanked the EU bloc for its support.
“The EU member states have supported UNIFIL and this has been essential in helping us with mandate implementation,” he said. “EU troops make up a third of the mission’s more than 10,000 troops on land and at sea. Their work – and their sacrifices – have directly contributed to maintaining the unprecedented sixteen years of security and stability along the Blue Line.”
The delegation, led by EU Ambassador to Lebanon Ralph Tarraf, included representatives of Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain.
Major General Lázaro briefed the delegation on UNIFIL’s work, together with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), in maintaining security and stability throughout the mission’s area of operations, including the sensitive Blue Line area.
He praised the EU for its support to local communities in south Lebanon, and to the LAF.
“EU member states have also shown a deep commitment to the capability development of the Lebanese Armed Forces, who are UNIFIL’s strategic partners,” he said. “Your vision and financial support for the Lebanese Model Regiment headquarters assists the army in deploying more troops in the south. This will strengthen the government’s ability to exercise its authority throughout Lebanese territory, something that has been an important element of UNIFIL’s mandate since Resolution 1701.”
Ambassador Tarraf, for his part, noted UNIFIL’s mandate has been critical in maintaining the cessation of hostilities and recognized the mission’s key role in reducing tensions between Lebanon and Israel.
“Through its liaison and coordination mechanisms, UNIFIL provides an important platform for indirect contacts between Israel and Lebanon and plays a crucial role in de-escalation, conflict management and confidence building,” he said. “The European Union and its Member States fully support UNIFIL in playing this role.”
The EU contributes significantly to implementing UNIFIL’s mandate in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701. Sixteen of the EU’s 27 member states contribute troops to UNIFIL. Peacekeepers from EU countries also support local communities with donations and development projects, which have become increasingly important in the context of the ongoing economic crisis. They have also made major investments to train and build capacities of the Lebanese Army and Navy.