The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is travelling to Beirut today accompanied by the President of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides. The trip is considered crucial with regard to Syrian maritime flows from the Lebanese coast which have suddenly multiplied in recent months.

The trip comes after Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi also visited Beirut to discuss ways in which Brussels could practically help the Middle Eastern country, which is being challenged by both an economic meltdown and escalating political instability.

Lebanon has long agreed to halt these flows and has been receiving large amounts of financial aid from the EU in order to do so. However, Beirut claims that it is finding it more and more difficult to do so because of its own circumstances and the huge number of Syrians living there, estimated to be around two million, in a country of 5.4 million people.

The main aim of the trip by the President of the Commission and the Cypriot President will be to reach a consensus, based on the additional EUR 400 million euros that the Commission has decided to make available to the Government of Lebanon for this specific purpose.

Nonetheless, as Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Konstantinos Kombos explains in an interview with TA NEA which will be published tomorrow, the task is not an easy one and the outcome remains to be seen.

Both the partial power vacuum in Lebanon and the tragic economic situation make it hard for Lebanon to withstand the additional burden of the two million Syrians who have fled there since the start of the War in Syria.

A few days ago Nicosia announced that it was suspending until further notice the examination of Syrian asylum applications, noting that there is no possibility to accommodate them any more as all existing facilities are already overcrowded.

The government in Cyprus is however even more alarmed by the spectacular rise of the far-right which could even exceed 15% in the upcoming European elections in June according to polls.