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- Al-Rawda attack is unacceptable barbarism... we face terrorism that bombs mosques, and we aspire to the international community’s support for Egypt in its war on terror.
- Egypt is a model for civilizational interchange between different cultures and the Egyptian society is characterized by tolerance and averting sectarianism and violence.
In the framework of his current participation in the Rome forum for Mediterranean dialogue, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry participated in a dialogue session titled “A Vision from Egypt,” which was dedicated to presenting Egypt’s perspective towards regional issues and situations. The dialogue session was moderated by Gerardo Greco, Director of News Programs in the Italian RAI channel, and Nicolas Pelham, The Economist’s Middle East correspondent.
Official MFA Spokesperson Counselor Ahmed Abu Zeid outlined in a statement that the Minister presented during the dialogue session an extensive explanation of Egypt’s position on regional situations. FM Shoukry emphasized the importance of deepening cooperation between the North and South of the Mediterranean to regain the strategic balance of power and address what has afflicted it over the past years. He noted that the military operations in Syria and Iraq against the terrorist organization ISIS were successful. However, there was neglect in dealing with foreign fighters and they were allowed to flee. Egypt had repeatedly warned of the implications of this as it would lead to the reemergence of the terrorist threat in other areas in Libya, Sinai, and Sub-Saharan Africa, which foreshadows dire consequences.
In response to a question regarding the President’s directive to use force to regain security and stability in Sinai within three months, the Minister said that the referenced area of operations is in Northeast Sinai, constitutes no more than 5% of the Peninsula, and is relatively isolated. In this regard, FM Shoukry emphasized that the Al-Rawda attack was barbaric taking 311 lives 27 of which were children and that the whole world should support Egypt in facing terrorism. He highlighted that Egypt is facing terrorism that bombs mosques and that security cannot be achieved with terrorist operations in Europe as well that, too, need to be firmly dealt with militarily.
The Minister went on to explain that Egypt’s vision for fighting terrorism combines military handling as well as undertaking developmental projects in the Sinai Peninsula to achieve a new standard of living for residents and to fortify them against extremist ideologies. He questioned the reasons of some states’ failure to provide Egypt with the assistance it needs to fight terrorism; especially, what advanced equipment and technology.
With regards to Libyan affairs, FM Shoukry asserted that Egypt shares an extended border with Libya noting Egypt’s continuous efforts to reach a political resolution, cultivate trust between the different groups in Libya, and reach a fair agreement that includes all parties. Egypt was a key actor in reaching the Skhirat Agreement. It, also, hosted many meetings to bridge the gap between Libyan parties and extend the prospects of dialogue between them to rebuild the Libyan state and restructure its institutions in a better way. Shoukry finds that matters in Libya are moving towards a positive path. He, also, noted the existence of organizations that provide different types of support to smuggle humans and arms to this area. Shoukry called for working together to cut the supplies of criminal groups working in human trafficking. With regard to the issue of immigration, the Minister reiterated that Egypt hosts millions of refugees; especially, Syrians departing from its responsibility toward regional states. He noted that refugees in Egypt are not confined to camps or shelters but live freely and enjoy security in Egyptian territories.
In response to an inquiry about democracy in Egypt, FM Shoukry asserted that during the past five years, the Egyptian society went through a period of building institutions following the January 25, 2011 and June 30, 2013 Revolutions. That happened by setting up a constitution and electing a parliament representative of the Egyptian society and that enjoys all powers to practice democracy. Egypt seeks to achieve a balance between different forces while respecting the rule of law and ensuring it is not violated. Egypt, also, seeks to achieve societal development to ensure the provision of basic services at a high quality to Egyptian citizens and achieve their hopes for a good standard of living. This comes within a complex regional scene filled with conflicts and difficult economic situations from which the entire region suffers. Egypt’s aspirations are consistent with its role across time based on firm values rooted in the depth of history.
Finally, regarding the Middle East peace process, FM Shoukry praised the American Administration’s direction in seeking to achieve peace in the region. He asserted Egypt’s cooperation with partners in the United States to put an end to this extended conflict. He, also, expressed Egypt’s willingness to coordinate with the American side when a specific vision is formed by the Administration. Shoukry emphasized that negotiation is the best mean to resolving this conflict.
The Foreign Minister concluded his talk noting that Egypt looks forward to the future through this Forum and others like it. Further, Egypt continues to be a tourist destination and FM Shoukry asserted that Egypt is a secure and stable country and that the Egyptian people always warmly welcome their guests. The Minister highlighted Egypt’s unique character as a model for civilizational interchange between different Greek, Roman, Arab, and African cultures. He reviewed Egypt’s rich heritage and great civilization, which attributed the characteristic of tolerance and averting sectarianism and violence to Egyptian society. FM Shoukry noted that there are lessons learnt in achieving societal stability in Egyptian history. And so, Egypt always seeks to extend bridges of communication with its international partners; especially, in the Mediterranean region