On Thursday (12 January), Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. Their talks focused on German-Egyptian relations and the areas of conflict in the Middle East.
Talks at the right time
“We had long and intensive talks,” Steinmeier said after his meeting with Shoukry. The meeting had taken place at the right time. Looking at the Middle East and North Africa, it was almost an understatement to speak of “turbulent times”, he said.
Difficult bilateral topics also on the agenda
With regard to bilateral relations, the agenda also included difficult topics. Steinmeier said the talks had also dealt with the need to combat terrorism, including which means can be allowed in this context. Furthermore, the two ministers had talked about the importance of fundamental freedoms and human rights.
They also addressed the question of German political foundations being able to start working in Egypt again. After the talks, Foreign Minister Steinmeier expressed hope that a solution could soon be found in order to enable the political foundations to restart their work.
A region in upheaval
Apart from bilateral relations, the talks focused on the areas of conflict in the region. “There is great upheaval in the region, and a significant amount of order has been lost,” Steinmeier said. The various areas of conflict posed risks and threats to the entire region, not least to Egypt.
The talks had thus also focused on the situation in Libya, Egypt’s neighbouring country to the west. Despite all endeavours, Libya was “still a long way from national unity and state stability”. Steinmeier paid tribute to efforts made by Egypt, which has recently played an active role in attempts to bring about a political settlement.
Situation in Syria – humanitarian care urgently needed
Steinmeier said that the situation in Syria remained “terrible”. A political settlement was still a long way off. Although fighting had become less intense in parts of the country, the international aid organisations were still experiencing difficulties in providing the urgently needed humanitarian assistance. In the hard winter months, people needed humanitarian care all the more urgently.
Egypt plays an important role in the Middle East conflict.
With regard to the Middle East conflict, Steinmeier said it was essential to “work resolutely to preserve the chance of peace in the region”. He underlined once again that this chance of peace can only exist in the form of a two-state solution ‑ if security is ensured for Israelis and Palestinians, and two states can live peacefully side by side as neighbours. Egypt had a key role in the peace process and carried particular weight in the Arab world, Steinmeier said.