NATO's secretary general could visit Egypt soon, thanks to an invitation from Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, says NATO deputy spokeswoman Caren Romero.
Earlier this month, Fahmy met current Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels for the EU-African summit.
The proposed visit will be the first time a NATO secretary general has come to Egypt since the alliance's establishment in 1949, Romero says.
Ahram Online talks with Romero about Egyptian-NATO relations and why political dialogue is important right now.
AO:How do you view Egyptian-NATO relations at this stage?
CR:The secretary general stressed at the beginning of the last meeting with [Fahmy] in Brussels that NATO attaches high importance to political dialogue with Egypt. We believe it's important to enhance our high-level dialogue and that there is a common interest in doing so.
Rasmussen raised the fact that Egypt has been an active partner in practical cooperation, and that the alliance is interested to increase cooperation in areas of common interests. As Fahmy said, "Let’s look at ways and areas where we can do more together and to tailor our cooperation according to the evolving national priority of Egypt." One of the mentioned areas was the fight against terrorism and what NATO and Egypt can do together.
As Rasmussen said, we are ready to enhance our partnership. NATO has followed the events in Egypt very closely. We wish Egypt all the success in the development of a political process in its [upcoming presidential] elections, so that the political leadership of Egypt can advance the demands of the Egyptian people.
Rasmussen stressed that while NATO does not involve itself in the domestic affairs of foreign countries, because we are allies of democracy, we do support the restoration of an inclusive and democratic political process which would lead to a more stable future for Egypt and its people. He also said that Egypt is a very important country to NATO and its Mediterranean Dialogue (a pact initiated by NATO in 1994 with seven Mediterranean countries – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia).
AO: In what fields of training can NATO and Egypt cooperate?
CR: There was an idea to look at and explore the areas where we can do more together, working on a staff level to see what we can do. It's a two-way cooperation and both parties need to look for areas where they can both add value to the other. Egypt can give an inside view to NATO on the region, which is a very important perspective.
AO: So do you expect more meetings in the future?
CR: Absolutely. More meetings are coming on the political level. There will also be more practical cooperation.
AO: Will the secretary general visit Egypt soon?
CR: He said that he doesn't know if he will be able to come before the end of his mandate at the end of September. But he also said that if he can't manage to come to Egypt, then he will pass the invitation on to his successor, Jens Stoltenberg.
So there is an interest from NATO to pay a high-level visit to Egypt. We don't have a date set, but we wish to answer in a very positive way to Fahmy's invitation.