A visit in the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Foreign Affairs Club SGH regards the visit in the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt as one of the most interesting meetings of the 5th edition of Action Diplomacy.
The meeting has begun with the rather sad remarks on the low interest of Polish diplomacy in the Arab world comparing to the period of the Polish Peoples’ Republic. Polish focus has shifted towards the UE and NATO alliances, although the number of Polish companies investing in Egypt has increased recently, both because of the good investing climate and the pivot role of Egypt in the access to deeper African markets. The trade now equals up to $500 mln.
Regarding Egyptian borders and safety, the diplomatic staff stressed that since 1979 the relations with Israel remain good and the only unsafe point is the triangle in the northern Sinai, where Hamas remains active. Hamas is also regarded as a party responsible for the liberation of many Muslim Brotherhood members during the Arab Spring, which, together with their activity at the time of the chaotic period, contributed to the success of radicals after the uprising. As the officials believe concerning Palestine, no third Intifada is possible as the Palestinians are too weak now and there was no major breakthrough in the relations to bear serious political change.
Egypt worries about their neighbors situation after the Arab Spring. The Cairo talks are expected to bring some hope to Syria, as they also include opposition parties at the negotiation table. The Syrian regime of Assad is not evil, as it is seen, but Assad should leave his position and allow for some changes. In Libya, no separation South-Sudan style can be accepted and the Tobruk government is considered legal, so the embargo on weapons should be lifted too. Turkey on the other hand is seen as the main perpetrator of the swarm of refugees in Europe, with the EU-Turkey agreement being pure “blackmailing”. The diplomats think that Erdogan and AKP are similar to Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, but better economic situation has led to weaker protests and he continued to strengthen his power almost undisturbed.
The recent deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia has been mentioned, supporting the notion that the islands in question belong to SA, although Egypt is skeptical about the particular idea of the bridge and its impact on tourism in the region. Another big topic were the dams built in Ethiopia in the Upper Nile and the negotiations surrounding them with Egypt and Sudan. We also spoke about the immigration policy of Egypt; our hosts have stressed that there are no refugee camps and tents in Egypt, as everyone is set free to pick up work and start a new life. We also talked about the decline in tourism after the Russian airplane crash in Sinai and what could be the trend in the future.
In the end we exchanged last thoughts on Polish agriculture exports – mainly apples – and the great Egyptian era between 20s and 50s. It was a highly informative meeting, with many general and specific questions on the politics of Egypt being asked.
Author: Jan Zygmuntowski