"We are always open to dialogue with anyone who is interested in democracy," said Michael Mann, spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the EU.
Mann was answering a question on EU intentions to initiate dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood. The question of dialogue is timely, following Washington’s announcement, days earlier, of similar steps.
Ashton, according to Mann, met with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood along with representatives of other political groups in Egypt during her four visits to the country following the start of the January 25 Revolution. Furthermore, this dialogue could expand provided "we are talking on the (establishment of) a pluralistic political regime that allows people not just to elect their governments but to kick them out as well."
Mann showed no sign of alarm regarding possible control of Islamists in Egypt and said that while the EU is willing to provide political and other forms of assistance it is "in no way" interested in interfering with the dynamics of the current political process in Egypt which he said "is looking relatively positive."
The EU spokesperson emphasised: "It is important that everybody is given the time to form political parties (and to prepare adequately) so when elections happen it is pluralistic."
Meanwhile, Bernard Brunet, the EU representative responsible for the Enlargement of European Neighbourhood Policy, asserted that, "We cannot say that Egypt has taken irreversible steps towards democracy." According to Brunet, much work is needed with regards to reforms on the country’s security institutions and the combat of corruption before such claims can be made.
Both Mann and Brunet insisted that matters related to freedom of the press and human rights are essential in expanding future cooperation between the EU and Egypt in line with the recently announced "more for more" policy by which the EU promised Egypt more access to money, market and mobility in return for more democratisation.
According to Mann, the EU will “judge democratic transformation once elections have happened."