Former Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in an April 30, 2023 address on OTV (Lebanon) that Lebanon is a victim of a "big game" and a "conspiracy" that is keeping the large influx of Syrian refugees in the country. He said that most of the European countries do not want the Syrian refugees, so they are trying to force Lebanon to keep them. President Aoun continued to say that these are not "political" refugees, rather they have been displaced due to security reasons. He added that the European countries want Lebanon to adopt the "big lie" that pollical refugees are the same as refugees due to security concerns and that it is an "insolent lie" to claim they will be killed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad if they return to Syria.
President Michel Aoun: "We should tell the truth and say who is behind the conspiracy to keep the Syrian [refugees] here. We know who caused the Syrians to come here. There was a war in Syria, people paid money, people sent fighters – countries did this, not individual people – and then they apply the pressure on us to bring [the refugees] here.
"I warned the successive governments about the outcome of this refugee migration, but these governments have not been attentive enough to take the necessary measures, the necessary political positions, or the necessary patriotic positions.
"We have recently realized that a big game is being played, that this is a conspiracy against Lebanon. Today, I presented a question to a certain ambassador. I said to her: 'You asked us to guard our shores, so that the Syrian refugees would not go to Europe. We cooperated with this. But why are you working to keep them here? You don't want them to go [to Europe], so you try to impose them on us? Why don't you help us get them back to Syria?' I am not ashamed to say that most countries in Europe don't want the refugees, so they try to force us to keep them. Be aware of that.
"The Syrian refugees came here and felt comfortable here. They are not political refugees. They are displaced due to security reasons. International law protects refugees and allows them to decide when it is safe for them to go back home.
"They are trying to force us to think like them – that a person displaced for security reasons is just like one displaced for political reasons. This is a big lie. Whenever we talk to them about it, they say that Bashar Al-Assad wants to kill these [refugees]. They say that he does not want them. This is an insolent lie. It is unacceptable."