Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1366, (26 October - 1 November 2017)
Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Issue 1366, (26 October - 1 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Matters of mutual interest

Egypt and France see eye-to-eye on a host of issues, reports Reem Leila

Macron welcomes Al-Sisi at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday  (photo: AFP)
Macron welcomes Al-Sisi at the Elysee Palace on Tuesday (photo: AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron said during a joint press conference with President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi following a 50-minute meeting at the Élysée Palace that it was not up to him to lecture Egypt on civil liberties. “I believe in the sovereignty of states, and therefore, just as I don’t accept being lectured on how to govern my country, I don’t lecture others.”

Al-Sisi embarked on a three-day visit to France on 23 October. “My deeply held conviction is that it’s in President Al-Sisi’s interest to accompany the defence and consolidation of human rights by the Egyptian state, in the context that only he can be the judge of,” Macron elaborated.

“We do not practise torture and we must be wary of all the information published by rights organisations,” Al-Sisi said during the press conference. He said that he was responsible for 100 million Egyptians who lived in turbulent times and alongside people who followed extremist thought and did not like to co-exist in peace. “We should not neglect the human rights of the families of the martyrs who died in the war of terrorism,” he said.

Seventeen agreements worth 400 million euros were signed in the fields of renewable energy, infrastructure, social security and transportation.

On the first day of the visit Al-Sisi met with Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation. Al-Sisi lauded Egypt’s ongoing cooperation with the French aircraft manufacturer. He commended the Rafale fighter jet’s efficiency and maneuverability which had strengthened Egypt’s defence abilities.

In return, Trappier said he valued the cooperation between Egypt and Dassault Aviation. He praised the efficiency of Egyptian pilots who had learned to handle the Rafale in a record time and said the company was keen to discuss the prospects for future cooperation.

Later in the day Al-Sisi met French Defence Minister Florence Parly. They discussed ways to build on existing military cooperation. Egypt, said Parly, was one of France’s key partners in the Middle East where it acted as a cornerstone for security and stability in the region.

Parly praised Cairo’s attempts to find political solutions to the various crises besetting the region and its efforts to fight terrorism. The French minister reiterated that Paris stood with Cairo against terrorism and stressed that France was committed to coordinating with Egypt over challenges threatening the countries’ shared interests.

The meeting also addressed ways to bolster the military and support Egypt’s counter-terrorism efforts. President Al-Sisi underscored the need for the international community to take a firm position against countries which support terrorism.

Discussions also touched on ways to combat illegal migration. Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef said both parties agreed the phenomenon needs to be confronted through an integrated strategy addressing its root causes, including political conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and finding solutions to endemic socio-economic problems.

Al-Sisi and Parly exchanged views on the latest developments in Libya, Syria and Iraq. Al-Sisi stressed the importance of promoting political solutions which preserve the unity, sovereignty, territorial integrity and resources of the afflicted states.

Youssef also said Cairo was open to discussing the human rights situation in Egypt.

Al-Sisi gave an exclusive interview to the French daily Le Figaro and with French channel France 24. During the latter Al-Sisi addressed human rights, combating terrorism and the ongoing crisis between Egypt and Qatar.

Egypt has a fair judicial system, Al-Sisi told his host. “The world should know this. Anyone can come and visit us, inspect our prisons, meet with prisoners as well as the prosecutor-general.”

“Anyone who is arrested faces a fair trial after which they are either acquitted or convicted.”

Due process, he added, is accorded to everyone.

Al-Sisi also talked about human rights organisations in Egypt after the presenter asked whether there was a systematic campaign against the country. “I do not accuse rights groups of anything. But these groups should be better informed about the situation in Egypt,” said Al-Sisi.

Egypt, he added, is the victim of deliberate pressure from abroad. “There is a systematic campaign against Egypt which we have talked about before,” he said.

On terrorism and ways to combat it Al-Sisi said: “We all have to move together, not just Egypt and France but the entire international community. Combating terrorism is a challenge for all of us because it affects the security and stability of everyone.”

“By uniting we can put an end to terrorism.”

Regarding the crisis with Qatar Al-Sisi said: "We all have the right to refuse interference in our domestic affairs. Qatar has been interfering and this is unacceptable.”

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