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Monday, 18 November 2019

Egypt's El-Sisi to inaugurate first EU-LAS summit in Sharm El-Shiekh

The summit, held under the title "Investing in Stability," is the first ever to bring together leaders of Arab and European states

Ahram Online , Sunday 24 Feb 2019
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Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will inaugurate Sunday the first ever European Union-Arab League Summit scheduled 24-25 February in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Shiekh. 

The summit will be chaired jointly by European Council President Donald Tusk and El-Sisi.

With the participation of more than 50 European Union and Arab League (AL) member states, the EU-AL Summit is the first ever to bring together heads of states and government from both sides.

The summit is being convened under the title "Investing in Stability."

Arab and European leaders will seek to strengthen Arab-European ties and address a wide range of issues and common challenges, including migration, border security and the situation in the region.

Busy agenda

In an official press release Friday, the EU provided an overview of the summit that will include discussion of mutual strategic priorities.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will also attend, representing the EU.

More than 20 European heads of states or government will be at the summit, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

According to the statement, the EU is the first trading partner and biggest investor in Arab League countries.

“Leaders are expected to discuss possibilities to develop cooperation in the fields of energy, science, research, (digital) technology, tourism, fisheries and agriculture,” the statement said.

They will also have the opportunity to tackle a number of pressing global issues, including human rights and the promotion of cultural and religious tolerance, and migration, which the EU described as a mutual challenge for both sides.

Combating terrorism is also a key issue set to be addressed, where leaders are expected to agree on the need to further increase cooperation and coordination aimed at addressing the root causes of terrorism, fighting the influx of foreign terrorist fighters, and cutting-off support to terrorist networks.

Regional conflicts, including the crises in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and the Middle East peace process, are also up for discussion in the two-day summit.

Limited expectations

The two blocs are expected to agree to hold the summit every three years in rotation, with the next gathering due in 2022 in Brussels, where the EU is headquartered, according to a draft joint statement expected to be issued at the summit's conclusion.

The draft declaration, reported by pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, is said to have steered clear of controversial issues between participating countries, while taking on all key issues concerning Arab and European states.

It highlights that cooperation between the two blocs would promote stability and security in both parts of the world, while calling for bolstering economic ties between members countries and adopting multilateral resolutions to major challenges.

It underlined "mutual stances" regarding adhering to the peace process to tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and considered settlements in the "occupied Palestinian territories" a violation of international legitimacy. The draft also condemned excessive use of force and collective punishments in Gaza without explicitly mentioning Israel. 

It urged joining forces between Arab and European countries to combat cross-border terrorism and called for stepping up measures against illegal migration and human trafficking.

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