Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that the danger of terrorism is spreading like a “cursed plague,” urging leaders attending the EU-Arab League summit to stand together against it.
“This plague, with its reasons, can never be justified. Terrorism is different from opposing something, which we all accept as a healthy phenomenon and a fundamental pillar of any sound political life,” El-Sisi said on Sunday during the opening session of a two-day EU-Arab League summit.
El-Sisi said that terrorism “was used by some states to spread chaos in neighbouring countries."
"Egypt has put forward a comprehensive vision to eliminate the threat of terrorism and its negative effects, in particular the right to life and other entrenched rights, and has enabled dialogue and cooperation to link this vision with the European position based on the importance of respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism," he said.
El-Sisi said that these shared challenges have also been embodied in the hotbeds of conflict in the region, foremost among them the Palestinian cause, which is the central and primary cause of the Arabs, and one of the main roots of these conflicts, as it continues to deprive the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights.
"I cannot but warn of the repercussions of the continuation of this conflict on all our countries,” he said.
Speaking about conflicts in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and other areas where there is armed conflict without a political settlement El-Sisi said that such conflict will only lead to more humanitarian catastrophes.
In his recommendations, El-Sisi suggested that "the cooperation between our countries must be strengthened in order to strengthen the institutions of the state to meet the difficult challenges, while respecting the principle of citizenship in the face of calls for sectarianism and extremism."
He also suggested " a comprehensive approach to combating terrorism."
"Thirdly, it is absolutely necessary that the Middle East be transformed from a ‘conflict’ area to a ‘success’ area, which requires genuine cooperation between our two regions most affected by these conflicts," El-Sisi said.
He also stressed the importance of economic cooperation which will lead to prosperity on both sides of the Mediterranean.
He also spoke about migration and the migration crisis in several countries in the region.
He noted that the high level of attendance at the summit was proof that what brings the two regions, Arab and European, together.
He added that it reflects the mutual interest and concern of the Arab and European parties to enhance dialogue and coordination.
Speaking after El-Sisi, President of the Council of the European Union Donald Tusk spoke about boosting cooperation between EU and Arab states.
“There are many areas where we can do this: from funding education to reducing unemployment; encouraging investments, and helping to boost trade,” he said.
He called for “real political will” to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change, and said that “fostering intercultural dialogue, empowering a vibrant civil society and prioritising education and opportunity” can help neutralise “violent extremism.”
Speaking about migration, he called for cooperation to foil people smugglers “who lure people into dangerous journeys” and to address “the root causes of migration and displacement”, to stop irregular migration, to facilitate returns, readmission and reintegration, and to protect the rights of refugees.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud addressing a speech at the EU-LAS in Egypt's Sharm El-Sheikh on Sunday February 24, 2019 (Photo: Screenshot: Extra news Channel)
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was third to speak during the opening session of the summit. He praised the relations between the two sides in the political, economic, and cultural fields.
He asserted the importance of the Palestinian cause, praising EU countries’ stances on the issue.
“The Palestinian cause is a priority for Arab states, and efforts should be made to retrieve the rights of the Palestinian people,” he said.
He also affirmed the importance of a political solution for the Yemen crisis, and international efforts to support legitimacy in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is fighting “Houthi militias supported by Iran.”
With the participation of more than 50 European Union and Arab League member states, the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh is the first-ever between the two bodies.
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.
The Arab League's secretary-general, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, warned against dependence on the use of force in conflicts currently taking place in the Middle East region.
Addressing the summit, he called for "political settlements that involve state unity."