Interview with Emile Lahoud

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud shared with RT his opinion on the situation in Lebanon. Heavy fighting continues as the Lebanese army attacks a Palestinian refugee camp thought to be housing a group of  Islamic militants.

Russia Today: Could the violence spread to other camps?

Emile Lahoud: A few days back they thought it would spread, but it was stopped in the south. Everybody took part in this dialogue. They stopped it with the agreement of all the Lebanese.

RT: Is there any chance of Hezbollah becoming involved in this latest wave of violence?

E.L.: Hezbollah has nothing to do with this and is in Lebanon only facing Israel and does nothing inside Lebanon.

RT: I have spoken with Mr Hariri, the leader of the parliamentary block. He says that the government has extended an invitation to Hezbollah. Can we expect to see them joining the government?

E.L.: According the Constitution, the opposition is asking to have a say in the major decisions in Lebanon. There are some important decisions to be taken. They were denied to have this say notwithstanding the fact they have 44 percent of the seats in Parliament. They are asking for 35 [cabinet portfolios] but they are not given. So it is wrong to say they are asking for coming in. To come in without a say is like to stay outside the government.

RT: The French government has invited the various political groups in Lebanon to France for talks at the end of the month. Do you think that will achieve anything?

E.L.: We feel that the French have changed their strategy towards Lebanon because unfortunately under President Jacques Chirac it was biased. The new administration in France is thinking about all the Lebanese, and we welcome that. They are very welcome to make the proposals like they are just doing it now. We hope there will be a good reaction by the Lebanese.

RT: You mentioned France but what do you think Russia can do? What can be the role of Russia here in Lebanon as well as in the Middle East?

E.L.: Russia has been doing a very good job concerning Lebanon because it has been equally distant from all the Lebanese. That is what Lebanon wants. It has been always looking for a consensus between the Lebanese, and that is what all the other countries will do.

RT: Are you confident that the government of  National Unity will be formed?

E.L.: I am confident that if the Lebanese are not pressured from the outside, they will come to an agreement, and I hope it will be soon because if it does not, I think it will be very bad for everybody in Lebanon if there is no unity government because we are against everything that has to do with the Lebanese fighting each other.

RT: Last time I met with you it was just after the war last year between Israel and Hezbollah. At that time people here were saying they did expect another war, it was on the cards. Do you think that this is still the situation?

E.L.: If I remember right, I said it will be difficult because they in Israel found out that they can use aircraft against Lebanon, use military vessels, but cannot enter Lebanon. What is the use of hitting from the outside if one cannot go inside. It has been proven that our young people were ready to die for their land whereas the Israeli soldiers were entering Lebanon against their will. I think they asked themselves about what they are doing in Lebanon. I do not think they will carry out another invasion of Lebanon.