Mr Duquesne is in charge of the preparations for the Cedre Conference (Economic Conference for Development through Reforms and with Entreprises).
After the meeting, Duquesne said: "I am Pierre Duquesne, the interministerial delegate for the Mediterranean and I am in charge of the preparation of the Cedre conference, which is not called Paris 4 but Cedre, not the conference of the Cedar, but the Cedre Conference: Every word is important, it's an Economic Conference, so we are not going to deal with security or humanitarian issues that are going to be dealt with either in Rome or in Brussels. It is a conference for Development, so it will deal with the medium and long-term problems of Lebanon, especially its shortage of physical and social infrastructure which are bottlenecks for the economy. This is a long-term perspective. It is not only about emergency problems or crisis, which was the case of Paris I, Paris II and Paris III. By Reforms, to make the investments suggested by the Lebanese government, which needs reforms that are not necessary difficult, sectoral reforms in water, telecommunications, energy, and with Entreprises.
There will be public investments, there will also be private investments and on March 6, a preparation meeting for the Cedre conference will be held in Beirut. This Cedre Conference will take place on April 6 in Paris at a ministerial level at least. So it is an intergovernmental conference with around, fifty or so countries and international organizations that will be invited by Lebanon and France.
Preparations are going well. I just saw the Prime Minister with whom things are well set. I also see other countries, international organizations, Lebanese ministries, so that everyone is on board for a collective preparation of this important event that the President of the French Republic wished for, to help advance Lebanon in a period that is not the most difficult in its history, there have been more crises, but especially because the elections will be held on May 6, there is a need to renew the social contract between the international community and Lebanon.
Question: Has the list of participants been confirmed? In particular the Gulf countries?
Duquesne: I am telling you that we are finalizing the guest list so they will be invited, all of course, and they will answer. I am not able to tell you at this point, but that does not mean that they said no. As you follow my travels, nobody has confirmed, since the formal invitations have not yet been launched. They will be. No conclusions. And don't say that I am not in Beirut, I am in Beirut. No conclusions. We are still in February.
Questions: Are there conditions that Lebanon must fulfill before May 6th?
Dusquesne: There are no conditions, there is a dialogue on public policies, there are signals, not necessarily very complicated, to give before the elections, there are mainly things that will have to be done after the elections . Reform of the energy sector, for example. No economy works without an energy infrastructure with tariffs that match the costs. These are subjects that we knew in France about fifty years ago. There was a report from a very famous French official who said that clocks are made to tell the time and tariffs to tell the costs.
Question: Will it be a problem if the 2018 budget is not concluded in Lebanon?
Dusquesne: Until now, there is no reason to doubt that it will be concluded. Secondly, the whole international community is happy that after 8 years, there was a budget in 2017. This government has proven that it has already moved in the right direction and no doubt it will continue to do so, so no speculations about things that are not going to happen.
Question: In your opinion, if there are countries that will not participate, what will they miss?
Dusquesne: They will miss an opportunity to help a country whose stability is important for the region and for the world. Once again, why say in advance that they will not participate? The invitations have not been launched, when you have dinner at home, if you start to speculate on who will not come before you invite anyone, you will not make many diners.