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Minister of State Hoyer talks to the Berliner Zeitung and Frankfurter Rundschau about the process of democratization in Egypt

14.02.2011 - Interview

(This interview appeared in the Berliner Zeitung and the Frankfurter Rundschau on 14 February 2011.)

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Mr Hoyer, what can Germany do to fuel the process of democratization in Egypt?

Above all else, it is important for democratic structures to be created in Egypt. That requires certain legal foundations to be in place. Establishing those will take a constitutional process, which Germany could provide advice on. We have a lot of experience in such matters, particularly when it comes to political foundations. Secondly, it is important for full use to be made of the time leading up to the elections, which are presumably not as far off as autumn, for political forces to organize themselves, form parties and develop their ideas of their political platforms. This process must and shall be completely in the hands of the Egyptian people – but we are prepared to provide any assistance that is wanted.

How can it be guaranteed that these elections will be at all democratic under these conditions?

That can be assured by having election observers already enter the country now instead of waiting until right before the vote itself. We know that electoral fraud often already begins with the creation of the electoral roll. We should accompany the process from the outset, and our help and advice should be available here as elsewhere.

Will there be money provided for this work?

Absolutely. We will divert funds already available and, if need be, mobilize more. Egypt now has the big opportunity to be a shining example lighting the way for a whole region of the world. That means that it must be in all our interests to see the process succeed.

Do you believe the theory that democratization could have a domino effect in the region?

I believe that this peaceful, even gentle uprising of the masses has sparked an incredible collective realization around the world, though especially in Egypt’s neighbouring countries. We saw this weekend how difficult it proved for the security forces in Algeria to get the crowds under control. Egypt’s example will have its effect on the region, I am sure. More will be set in motion before we have seen the end of this.

Up until now, the West has refused to enter into dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood.Is that a wise stance?

I have never understood this fear of contact. One has to take a very nuanced view of that organization. It has a social and charitable network that is too highly developed to be simply passed over. What is more, an organization which may get 20 or 30 percent of the vote in the elections is not one which we can be allowed to ignore. It is important that all those who have a place in the hearts and minds of people in Egypt, who have their trust, be involved in the process of democratization.

This interview was conducted by Holger Schmale. With kind permission of the Berliner Zeitung und Frankfurter Rundschau.

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