BEIRUT: Following Qatar’s announcement that it would buy $500 million in bonds from the Lebanese government, caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil called on more countries to invest in his country.
In an interview with United States-based outlet CNN Tuesday night while attending the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Bassil said, “Qataris are good investors and they are in the process of buying Lebanese bonds. And I invite others to do the same because it is safe [to invest] and has a good return.”
Bassil’s remarks came a day after Moody’s Investor Service announced that it had downgraded Lebanon’s long-term investment rating to reflect an increased likelihood that Lebanon would undertake debt rescheduling or other measures that Moody’s may consider a default.
But, the foreign minister told CNN's Becky Anderson, “I cannot describe our economy as so bad, because it is a small economy, and the Lebanese people have ... great initiative. We are resourceful, and we have skills and the ability to [revive the economy], and we have countries that still believe in Lebanon. ... The world cannot allow to have a Lebanon that is collapsing."
“It is not in the interest of anyone to have a collapsed Lebanon. A collapsed Lebanon results in more terrorism and more extremism and more violence,” he added.
Besides the financial situation, the foreign minister was also asked about the tension on the Lebanese-Israeli border: “What keeps me awake is the silence that is accompanying the daily Israeli breaches of our independence and sovereignty,” he said.
“Lebanon respects international laws, while Israel does not. That is the problem,” Bassil added, while also alluding to the almost daily land and air violations Israel commits to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.
Bassil's meetings continued Wednesday as he met separately on the forum's sidelines with the Armenian, Jordanian and Palestinian foreign ministers. He also met with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen and participated in a closed meeting on Syria, according to Bassil's Twitter account.