Friday,20 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1150, 29 May - 5 June 2013
Friday,20 October, 2017
Issue 1150, 29 May - 5 June 2013

Ahram Weekly

Great expectations, middling results

Reem Leilaassesses the significance of President Mohamed Morsi’s second visit to Ethiopia

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eg22
Al-Ahram Weekly

 

On 24 May President Mohamed Morsi arrived in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to attend the 21st session of the African Union summit (AU) — Pan Africanism and African Renaissance — as well as celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the AU.

Significantly the AU summit meets less than a month ahead of a planned Nile Basin summit in Juba, South Sudan: hardly surprising, then, that the ongoing crisis over access to Nile water topped Morsi’s agenda in meetings with Ethiopian officials. On the summit’s margin Morsi met with a host of African leaders. Among the issues addressed by the summit were promoting peace and development and fighting HIV and malaria.

Meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Morsi raised Egypt’s concerns over the construction of the Renaissance Dam. Desalegn told Morsi that Ethiopia “would never harm either Egypt or Sudan or compromise their share of Nile water”.

“Both Ethiopia and Egypt long for mutual cooperation across different fields,” he said.

Morsi also met with US Secretary of State John Kerry who raised concerns about Egypt’s economic situation.

“Egypt must adopt better economic and political reform plans if the country is to receive US and global aid. Reform measures which Egypt is trying to adopt are hindered by the continuous state of unrest and lack of security, democracy as well as clear political restructuring plans,” said Kerry.

Kerry underlined that Egypt needs to offer serious evidence of financial reforms to US Congress in order to reach a consensus on aid. Egypt is struggling with dire economic indicators as talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to receive a crucial $4.8 billion loan package stagger on. Kerry urged Morsi to finalise the IMF deal to counterbalance a widening budget deficit spurred by slow tourism, a devaluing currency and stagnating economy.

Morsi also met with Egyptian expatriates living in Ethiopia. He told them “Egypt is keen on improving African integration and benefiting from the successful experiences of all other countries.”

He offered details about the government’s controversial Suez Canal Corridor (SCC) project, claiming it would significantly improve Egypt’s economic fortunes.

“The SCC project, operated by a public-private partnership, aims to develop the governorates of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said by the year 2017,” said Morsi. “It will attract local, Arab and foreign investments.”

Morsi struck an optimistic note when he said “Egypt has left behind dictatorships, oppression and corruption.”

“The government,” Morsi insisted, “is exerting every effort to achieve revolutionary goals.”

Morsi met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on the summit’s sidelines and discussed bilateral relations and possible Egyptian contributions to South Sudan’s electricity, health and education sectors. Morsi’s spokesman Ihab Fahmi said in his meeting with Kiir that the president had expressed his desire for further cooperation with Nile Basin countries and stressed South Sudan’s important role in helping move towards a consensus over the contentious issue of Nile water.

“The president also welcomed positive developments between South Sudan and Sudan,” said Fahmi. 

The president met with the Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir on 24 May to discuss bilateral relations as well as ways to enhance trade and investment.

On 25 May Morsi met with Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hamad Bin-Jassem Al-Thani. They reviewed ongoing Egyptian-Qatari cooperation, particularly in the energy field.

The Syrian crisis was among many other issues discussed with the Qatari prime minister. Both parties warned the crisis could lead to Syria’s breakup. Morsi stressed the importance of international and regional agreement to push for a peaceful compromise, end to the bloodshed and preserve Syria’s territorial integrity, and once again pushed the idea of a quartet committee composed of Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia to help solve the Syrian crisis.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kamel Amr met with his Algerian, Sudanese, Sierra Leonean and Kenyan counterparts. According to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry Amr discussed issues of common interests and ways to enhance existing ties. Amr also discussed Nile Basin issues and the relationship between Sudan and South Sudan with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti.

 

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