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Thursday, 21 June 2018

Arms suspension will end 'as things return to normal': EU ambassador in Egypt

James Moran underlines the EU's rejection of violence, encouraging reconciliation that includes all parties to Egypt's present crisis

Bassem Aly , Thursday 22 Aug 2013
James Moran, the Ambassador of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Egypt (Photo: Mostafa Abdel Aty, courtesy of D-CAF)
Views: 1328
Views: 1328

James Moran, the ambassador of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Egypt, held a press briefing in Cairo Thursday to discuss latest developments in the grouping's position towards Egypt's ongoing political crisis.

On Wednesday, foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states issued a statement that includes a decision to suspend the sale of security equipment and arms to Egypt.

The step came in response to violence in Egypt that led to emergency EU talks.

Moran assured that this EU move will be reversed as "things return to normal, in order to avoid internal repression."

"The EU condemns all acts of violence that occurred during the last week, and we are worried about casualties of both parties," he noted.

Moran also denounced "acts of terrorism" committed against churches, museums and government buildings, as well as the killing of at least 25 Egyptian policemen by suspected Islamist militants near Rafah on the Israel-Egypt border.

"All kinds of violence and hate speech in Egypt should stop. We defend freedom of religion, and the government should bring all perpetrators [of violence] to justice," Moran added.

Answering a question on the nature of legal probes into violent crimes, Moran said that only Egyptian authorities could decide whether international assistance is needed to support such investigations.

Moran called for lifting the state of emergency. "The faster the better," he said.

Last week, the government announced a state of emergency for one month, in addition to a 7pm to 6am curfew that has imposed reduced working hours on all government and public services, companies and banks.

Ending emergency law was one of the demands of the January 25 Revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. During his three-decade rule, the state of emergency introduced after the assassination by militant Islamists of predecessor President Anwar El-Sadat was never lifted, despite repeated promises.

Current Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi said that the state of emergency would not last long, but gave no further details.

Moran said the EU backs El-Beblawi's insistence on implementing the declared transitional roadmap, urging the inclusion of all political groups within a reconciliation process.

"Though it is hard, Egypt should welcome the participation of all factions as long as they refrain from and denounce violence and abide by democratic principles," Moran said.

Moran declined to comment on the 50-member committee formed to amend the Islamist-drafted 2012 constitution.

"We haven't seen the new draft, so we have to see what will happen. The EU hopes all sides can reach consensus," he said.

Moran emphasised the shared interests and valued between EU states and Egypt, asserting that EU investment and economic cooperation will continue despite any disagreement on political affairs.

"Egypt is a friend, a partner and a neighbour to the EU as we have supported Cairo for decades. Many Europeans live in Egypt, and also hundreds of Egyptians live in Europe," Moran said.

Moran added that the EU meeting underlined the importance of the relationship with Egypt and the aspirations of the Egyptian people for "dignity and human rights."

Moran revealed that no new visits are expected by the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, in the coming period.

Ashton travelled twice to Egypt last month following the 3 July ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi amid massive protests against him.

During her last visit with the EU's special envoy for the southern Mediterranean, Bernadino Leon, Ashton sought to facilitate a political deal including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Foreign mediation efforts by the EU, the United States and Gulf nations broke down. Days later the situation escalated into violence amid a security forces operation to clear two pro-Morsi sit-in camps in Cairo and Giza.

Almost 900 people were reported dead in six days of subsequent clashes.

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