Democratic change in Egypt
Counting of votes 23./24. 5. 2012
Two years after the fall of the Mubarak regime, the political and economic situation in Egypt is still very unclear. Despite major protests by opposition groups and vehement opposition from judges, who were supposed to monitor the voting, in December 2012 around 64 per cent (with a turnout of around 33 per cent) voted in a constitutional referendum in favour of a new constitution, which has been in force since 25 December 2012.
Even though the transition process has been smooth, Egypt still faces major challenges. This applies in particular to the country’s economic recovery. Germanyand the international community are providing assistance.
Among the crowds: Westerwelle in Tahrir Square (24 February 2011)
© dpa / picture-alliance
Germany is lending active support to the process of democratization in the region, and not least in Egypt – a country which is key to the Arab world. The help offered is geared to the countries’ particular needs and priorities. During the visit by Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi on 30 January, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that Germany wanted the transformation process to succeed and that “it would play its part with its transformation partnership”.
When he met Egypt’s Foreign Minister in Berlin on 12 August 2011, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle emphasized the “great importance of the cooperative relationship” enjoyed by their two countries. He reiterated that Germanywas standing by Egypt to ensure that the process of democratic change would bear fruit for the people there.
What exactly this means was agreed in a Berlin Declaration made by the two Foreign Ministers. “We will provide assistance for setting up democratic institutions, we will assist the establishment of greater rule of law and we will promote intercultural dialogue,” Westerwelle pledged at the time. There was a meeting of the German-Egyptian Steering Committee on 29 November 2012 at which this special form of cooperation was reaffirmed once more. Foreign Minister Westerwelle made it clear in late January 2013 that “the transformation partnership we’ve offered largely depends on advances being made in Egypt’s democratic development”.
Main focuses of the measures planned for 2012/13
The Federal Foreign Office is providing 100 million euros for measures within the scope of the transformation partnerships in the region. The Federal Foreign Office is using the additional funding for 2012/13 for a package of measures aimed at supporting the democratic and rule‑of‑law transformation in the region.
The priorities will be:
- Stabilizing the democratization process
- Strengthening civil society and free media
- Promoting the rule of law and human rights
- Supporting good governance
- Stabilizing the transformation process in both the economic and social spheres, in particular by boosting vocational training and job creation
- Fostering cooperation in the education and research sphere
Among other things, the Federal Foreign Office is funding the following concrete projects in Egypt in the spheres mentioned:
The rule of law and human rights
The dialogue on key issues such as the rule of law and good governance is being advanced via offers of advisory services and the exchange of experts. An Egyptian human rights organization working to help people who disappeared or were arrested during the revolution received support. Further projects on human rights issues, on strengthening the role of women an on democracy building are being funded.
Economy and education
Within the scope of an employment pact, centres are being established which could serve as models for innovative and efficient vocational training and job placement, in order to promote economic recovery and the labour market. In the education, university and academic spheres, the Federal Foreign Office initiative entitled Place of the Future pools a wide variety of measures such as scholarships and alumni programmes, university cooperation projects, the development of joint master’s programmes as well as research residencies.
In support of free media, funding has been provided for, among other things, basic and further training for journalists as well as representatives of political parties and governmental institutions, blogger seminars, the programme of DW‑TV ARABIA and co‑productions by German and Arab TV channels on education programmes. The Federal Foreign Office helped young democratic activists to put forward their positions in the media and, through that, present them to the wider public.
In the run‑up to the 2012 elections, Germanysupported projects which placed the tools for independent election reporting at the disposal of Egyptian journalists. With German and Canadian support, the Wahl‑O‑Mat informed voters about political parties and their election pledges.
The Tahrir Lounges
Demonstrators assemble at Tahrir Square in Cairo
Centres for young people are being supported in an effort to strengthen the dialogue within society. The Tahrir Lounge on the premises of the Goethe-Institut Cairo was opened with Federal Foreign Office support in April 2011. This provides a meeting place in the heart of Cairo for those who played a significant role in setting Egypt’s democratic change in motion to discuss their positions on the country’s future. A second Tahrir Lounge was subsequently opened in the Nile Delta. The two lounges have become key fora for discussion on Egypt’s move towards democracy. Another two lounges in Upper Egypt are to be established in the course of 2013.
The Goethe‑Institut has also initiated special programmes in the spheres of civil society, cultural relations and education policy, the qualification of actors in the education and cultural fields and in support of artistic productions.
Further measures by the German Government
In 2011, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development made six million euros available for the promotion of the democratization process and independent media in the region. Much of this funding went to projects involving Germany’s political foundations, which are very active in the region.
A total of eight million euros was made available to boost youth employment, as well as a further 20 million euros for micro‑financing measures to promote small and medium‑sized enterprises.
Furthermore, Germany is supporting international exchange programmes in the judicial sphere and among parliamentarians.
At EU level too, the Federal Foreign Office has campaigned for rapid and effective support for the democracy movement and the transition process. On 11 March 2011, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission put forward joint proposals for a Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean, which were approved by the Heads of State and Government of the European Council.
This Partnership is one component of the revised European Neighbourhood Policy. The intention is that support from the EU will in future be better targeted and coordinated. It will also be more closely tied to the condition of carrying out democratic reforms.
The EU has made available around 20 million euros to boost civil society. Moreover, a new EU initiative (SPRING) has been launched which is to provide around 350 million euros in funding for various sectors. The European Investment Bank has raised its commitments to economic development in the region by one billion euros. The mandate of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has been extended to cover the southern Mediterranean region.
Bernardino León, the EU Special Representative for the Southern Mediterranean, is to ensure better coordination of EU activities in the transition countries. Moreover, the EU decided to start negotiations on the creation of “deep and comprehensive free trade areas” with Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan. The aim is to dismantle trade barriers and foster economic growth, as well as to provide improved protection for investments.
At their summit in Camp David in May 2012, the G8 states reaffirmed their support for the Deauville Partnership. This involves not only the G8 countries but also key regional partners – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – as well as international financial institutions including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Investment Bank. The aim is to mobilize substantial financial support for the Arab Spring countries in order to foster their economic stability.
Last updated 31.01.2013