Giving democracy in Egypt a chance

On 30 January, Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi visited Berlin, where he met Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle among others. He also took part in a session of the Bundestag Committee on Foreign Affairs and in a discussion organized by the Körber Foundation. Meanwhile, his country has been shaken by a renewed wave of violence. There have been clashes between demonstrators and police officers in several Egyptian cities over the last few days.

Despite the recent violence in Egypt, the German Government remains committed to maintaining a dialogue with the Egyptian Government as well as close contacts with opposition forces. The Federal Chancellor said after her talks with President Morsi, “I hope that Egypt can develop peacefully, that all democratic forces are given scope.” In a television interview on 30 January, Foreign Minister Westerwelle called for “strategic patience” in dealing with Egypt. He said that democracy in Egypt must be given “a genuine chance”:

That means voicing criticism as well as ensuring that we do not scale down the dialogue but, rather, consolidate it. For dialogue is the best way to exert influence.

Seeking a modus vivendi

Near Tahrir Square

Near Tahrir Square
© picture-alliance/dpa

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Near Tahrir Square

Near Tahrir Square

Near Tahrir Square

Westerwelle called on the two sides to the conflict to “seek a modus vivendi within the country”. He appealed to the Egyptian leadership to “respect democratic principles such as the separation of powers”. Morsi gave assurances during a press conference that his country would respect the rule of law and freedom of opinion and would be “neither a military nor a theocratic state”.

The German Foreign Minister said that he expected Egypt to continuing meeting its international obligations. In this connection, he commended Egypt’s role as mediator in the recent Gaza conflict. The Federal Chancellor also stressed that Egypt was an important voice in the Middle East.

Support for democratic change

Germany regards Egypt as a key country in the wake of the Arab Spring. Federal Chancellor Merkel stated during President Morsi’s visit that Germanywanted the transformation process to succeed and that it would play its part. The German Government is providing support for the democratic change in Egyptian society through a transformation partnership. The Chancellor stressed that this transformation partnership “has a very broad basis, ranging from cultural to political and academic cooperation”. She went on to say that this was also about education. “Especially for the many young Egyptians, education is the key to a bright future.”

The German Government is thus promoting projects aimed at strengthening civil society, free media and human rights, as well as programmes to foster vocational training, employment and cooperation in the spheres of education and research. However, Minister Westerwelle made it clear that “the transformation partnership we’ve offered largely depends on advances being made in Egypt’s democratic development”.

More on the transformation partnership

Last updated 31.01.2013

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