• 18:48
  • Thursday ,11 August 2011

EU diplomat confirms commitment to Egypt's transition

By-John Radcliff-Daily News Egypt

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Thursday ,11 August 2011

EU diplomat confirms commitment to Egypt's transition

CAIRO: The European Union made their latest installment in the effort to support and work alongside the developments occurring the Middle East and North Africa region by implementing the EU Special Representative for the Southern Mediterranean Region, Bernardino León.

León, who has assumed several roles in countries undergoing transitional governments as well as published several books and articles on the Arab Muslim world, was quick to issue his commitment to Egypt by saying, “This mandate is intended to spur more dialogue, more understanding and more efficiency. The goal is to achieve cohesion between countries like Egypt and the EU. My intention is not only to visit Egypt but to stay in this country as well.”
In this capacity, León will look to maintain close contacts with all the parties involved in the process of democratic transformation, reassuring the coordination between the new Egyptian Administration and the European Commission (EC), EU member states, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
When asked about the trajectory of Egypt’s democracy and the EU’s role in shaping its progression León answered, "Democracy must be achieved within, from the Egyptian society. We can only accompany and I insist we will give our utmost respect to the choices and verdicts of the Egyptian people.”
Egypt has declined the option of election monitoring from the EU in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
León acknowledged this and offered his optimism regarding the impeding transparency and passage of the upcoming elections by saying, “The EU remains committed to Egypt and its ability to transition into a fruitful democracy, Europe will be ready to respond,” he went on to add, “We fully trust the transitional government and civil society. Our support is there for the ambitions of the Egyptian people.”
Just as León’s position is a nuance to the foreign policy agenda as is the open call for democracy is Egypt. León did not hold reserve in being critical toward the previous EU policy toward Egypt by saying, “Only focusing on stability in Egypt was not the right thing to do ... True stability must come from democracy and prosperity.”
Currently an obstacle impeding the relationship between the EU and Egypt exists in the continued withdrawal from the market and ban the import of certain types of seeds from Egypt due to a recent E. coli outbreak in Europe.
“I understand perfectly the health risks and necessity of the ban, and also know that this is bad for the Egyptian producers of the seeds. What is now important is through dialogue we can accelerate procedures. The delegation to inspect production is to come to Egypt very soon.”
Although the EU has received criticism for its belated dispatch of scientists to Egypt in order to investigate the claim and construct a possible solution, León pledged his support to not only re-open European markets, but use this a stepping stone to open more doors for Egypt to the European market.
Since 2004, under the free EU-Egypt bilateral trade agreement has nearly doubled with the EU imports from Egypt amounting to €7.2 billion or $10.4 billion in 2010.
León closed by expressing his excitement for the new opportunities emerging within the Egyptian society and marketplace by saying, "For the European Union the most important priority at this moment is to support the changes in Egypt. For us it means listening, it means respecting as well as accompanying and understanding.”