Hariri on Feb. 14 Eve: 'I Have Not Changed'
On the eve of the 14th anniversary of the assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri has stressed that he has not “changed” his political views and stances.
“I believe in moderation and I believe that countries can only be built through moderation and that extremism is the enemy of any progress,” Hariri said in an interview with An-Nahar newspaper's editor-in-chief, ex-MP Nayla Tueni.
Acknowledging that political disputes have “undermined people's confidence in the state,” Hariri told those who have lost confidence in him that he has not “changed.”
“I'm the same person who sought to continue Rafik Hariri's journey with the people in 2005,” he said.
“But the region has changed and so did politics and the divisions... We returned backwards while I'm trying to look forward. We ran into violent events in the region that divided the country and today we are coming out of them,” Hariri added.
“I have not changed my camp, but the regional disputes will not push me to paralyze the country,” he said.
Asked whether Hizbullah is trying to impose its will on the country, Hariri said: “Hizbullah is trying to impose some things in the country, but if the parties do not cooperate with each other, there will be no solution to the country's problems.”
And insisting that “no one can eliminate anyone in Lebanon,” the premier emphasized that “the Lebanese are the ones who choose the axis they want to be in.”
As for his relation with President Michel Aoun, Hariri said: “The President has not abandoned his allies and I have not abandoned mine, but the President and I have decided that it is necessary to find consensus among the three presidents (Aoun, Hariri and Speaker Nabih Berri) for the sake of the country.”
“The foundation of the executive authority is the relation and partnership between the President and the Premier,” Hariri added.
As for his relations with the other political leaders, the premier said he has “excellent” ties with Aoun, Berri, Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil, Progressive Socialist Party leader ex-MP Walid Jumblat and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.
Asked about the recent deterioration in the relation with Jumblat, Hariri said: “The relation with him is good and I understand his fears, but I lament that he does not know how much I am with him.”
And reassuring that the latest row between them has been resolved, the PM added: “There is also a war on me, not only on Walid Jumblat.”
“Discord between us strengthens the others and accord between us deters them,” he noted.