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“Egypt needs our support”

Foreign Minister Westerwelle stressed in an interview he gave to mark today’s visit by Egyptian President Morsi to Germany that Egypt needed long-term international support for its transformation process. Published in the Rheinische Post newspaper on 30 January 2013.

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There is widespread chaos and violence in Egypt and President Mohammed Morsi is faced with considerable criticism. Is it right for Chancellor Merkel to meet Morsi in Berlin and thus enhance his standing?

Particularly during this period of uncertainty, it’s important to step up the dialogue with Egypt. The situation there is difficult and very complicated. In the political sphere, as well as in terms of social and economic participation, things aren’t changing as quickly as people had hoped.

Should Germany link financial aid to an improvement in conditions in the country?

Nobody could expect a quick turnaround for the best in all areas of Egyptian life after lengthy authoritarian rule. The revolution two years ago unleashed tremendous social forces which continue to have an impact. The task now is to steer these forces towards further democratization, the rule of law and religious tolerance.

Will the West continue to help Egypt?

Egypt needs long-term international support: without investment, without substantial numbers of tourists, and without assistance for the transformation process, people in Egypt will have no credible economic prospects, nor will they have a share in social progress. Despite all the problems, Germany remains prepared to assist Egypt along the difficult path towards democracy through a transformation partnership. The country must not be allowed to return to the old authoritarian structures.

Mohammed Morsi acts like an authoritarian ruler. He’s threatening protesters with the military and has allowed rampaging football fans to be sentenced to death. What do you say to that?

Violence perpetuated by or against demonstrators won’t solve any of the problems facing the country. What’s needed now is prudence. I’m calling for an end to all acts of violence, no matter which side commits them.

The questions were put by M. Bröcker. Reproduced by kind permission of the Rheinische Post.