Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry presented to Johannes Hahn, of the European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, Cairo’s efforts in combating illegal migration during a Wednesday meeting in Brussels, where Egypt described its efforts as a "successful model" in dealing with the issue.
In an official statement, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said Shoukry highlighted Egyptian efforts, which include since September 2016 stopping any boats in Egyptian territorial waters carrying migrants to Europe, asking European partners to support Egypt in its efforts.
Large numbers of people seek to migrate illegally from Egypt each year, often travelling first to Libya and then onward to Europe across the Mediterranean. Human-trafficking gangs operate from Libya, charging migrants large sums of money to make the perilous journey.
Cairo raised its focus on this issue and introduced an illegal migration law following a September 2016 migrant boat disaster off its Mediterranean coast that killed hundreds, promising harsher sentences against human traffickers.
Shoukry meeting was held amid his visit to attend a mini summit with select Arab and international partners. Shoukry highlighted ongoing cooperation between Egypt and the EU, with positive developments in the domains of political affairs, human rights, stability, security, and counterterrorism.
According to Egypt's foreign ministry, the Egyptian delegation in Brussels delivered to the EU 200 projects to be implemented in Egypt under the umbrella of Egypt-EU cooperation priorities for 2017-2020, and that align to Egypt’s 2030 Vision for sustainable development.
The meeting came as the EU said Wednesday in an official press release that it gave a green light 10 July to a package of financial guarantee programmes worth around €800 million to help leverage an estimated €8-9 billion in public and private investment in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood areas.
Shoukry expressed his wish for the convening of the Egyptian-European Partnership Council before the end of 2018, and the two sides also discussed preparations for the 3rd European-Arab Summit, which is set to be held in Greece in October 2018, with view of providing the most representative and dynamic platform for debating strategies of Euro-Arab cooperation and partnership between the two major economic and political blocs.
For his part, Hahn expressed interest in Egypt’s views on a number of regional issues, including the situation in Syria and Libya. Shoukry underlined the importance of executing the initiative of UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salama, to provide a suitable atmosphere for elections in Libya.
Shoukry also reiterated Egypt’s support for efforts on forming a constitutional committee in Syria under the leadership of UN Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, considering it one of the most important elements in support of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on a political resolution to the Syrian crisis.
Separately, Shoukry also met with the EU’s high representative on foreign policy, and vice president, Federica Mogherini.
Shoukry is in Belgium to participate in a mini summit on Syria with foreign ministers of the UK, France, the US, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
This participation came due to Egypt’s active role in extended talks with regional and international partners to put in place a political solution for the Syrian crisis that preserves the integrity and unity of the Syrian state and ensures the welfare and safety of the Syrian people, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry.