Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1361, (21 - 27 September 2017)
Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Issue 1361, (21 - 27 September 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Ambassadors exchanged

Last week’s exchange of ambassadors between Cairo and Rome is likely to give bilateral relations an additional push, writes Doaa El-Bey


Ambassadors exchanged

Last week saw diplomatic relations between Cairo and Rome raised to ambassador level after the withdrawal of both ambassadors over a year ago. Both states see the step as likely to boost relations between the two countries.

“Italy is an important partner for Egypt, and exchanging new ambassadors reflects the mutual will to return bilateral relations to their normal, deep and historic track,” said new Egyptian Ambassador to Rome Hisham Badr immediately before leaving for Italy.

Badr said he was looking forward to pushing coordination between Cairo and Rome forward regarding different regional issues, including Libya, illegal migration, combating terrorism and other matters.

“The deep relations binding the two states will increase present and future opportunities to face challenges, especially since both states are keen to boost coordination and bilateral dialogue,” Badr added.

Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano told his country’s parliament earlier this month that “Egypt is an inextricable partner of Italy, and Italy is an inextricable partner of Egypt. It is impossible for our two countries not to have high-level political and diplomatic dialogue.”

Badr left Cairo for Rome on Friday morning to assume his new position. Two days earlier, the new Italian ambassador to Egypt, Giampaolo Cantini, submitted his credentials to Ayman Meshrafa, assistant deputy minister of foreign affairs, in Cairo.

After the meeting, he met Badr, starting work last Thursday morning after meeting members of the Italian diplomatic mission in the Italian Embassy in Cairo.

Last month, Italian Prime Minster Paolo Gentiloni had declared that Cantini would be in Cairo soon. The previous Italian ambassador to Egypt, Maurizio Massari, was recalled to Rome in April last year for consultations over the murder of student Giulio Regeni in Egypt.

In another development in Egyptian-Italian relations, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri and Alfano met in London on the sidelines of the Sixth Ministerial Meeting on the crisis in Libya.

The officials hailed the decision to exchange ambassadors and underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation in political, economic, military and security areas between Cairo and Rome, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid.

They reiterated their commitment to cooperation and coordination of efforts in the Regeni case, Abu Zeid added.

Bilateral relations between Egypt and Italy suffered a blow following the death of Regeni, an Italian student, in Cairo. The Egyptian authorities have been conducting an investigation to determine who killed Regeni and have been regularly updating Rome on developments.

Egypt’s top prosecutor has visited Rome more than once since April 2016 to share information relating to the ongoing inquiry with his Italian counterpart.

Last month, Egypt’s prosecution authority released a joint statement with its Italian counterpart regarding the latest developments in the investigation. The Egyptian and Italian chief prosecutors had discussed developments in the investigations being carried out since the meeting between the Egyptian and Italian teams in May, the statement said.

Alfano said, in a statement to the Italian parliament last week, that the return of the Italian ambassador to Egypt was part of the political and ethical obligations of the Italian government regarding the search for the truth about the murder of Regeni.

Egypt is an important strategic partner for Italy in the Middle East region, and Italy is an important tourism market for Egypt. It is also the second-largest trade partner for Egypt and the fifth foreign investor in Egypt.

The two countries closely cooperate in resolving regional issues, including finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Libya and combating illegal migration from North Africa to European shores. Italy is a main destination for illegal migrants.

“The last three years have seen a noticeable rise in Italian investment in Egypt in the field of clean and renewable energy, as well as in Italian support for small projects in Egypt. We are looking forward to attracting more Italian investment to Egypt in a way that serves our vision for economic development in the framework of the Egypt Vision 2030,” Badr concluded.

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