Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi speaking at the Munich Security conference on Saturday February 16, 2019 (Photo: Snapshot from State TV)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi highlighted security challenges facing the African continent, migration issues and means of fighting terrorism in his speech to the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
The Egyptian president is attending the security conference as this year’s chairman of the African Union, a role he assumed this month.
In his address, El-Sisi also called for international help for the Palestinian people.
“We need to relieve the Palestinians of their daily suffering,” he said.
El-Sisi also urged the need for international cooperation on these issues.
“The challenges of the age are too big for a single country or assembly to handle,” El-Sisi said. “We are witnessing armed conflicts, several wars, ethnic conflicts, terrorist attacks, in addition to the problems of poverty and unemployment."
"These challenges have been further compounded by the international polarisation and escalation of political confrontations, as well as the challenges of nature, such as climate change, desertification, water shortages and others.
"This requires strengthening international efforts, because the challenges of the present age exceed the capacity of any country."
He also highlighted the importance of economic development, especially post-conflict development, in many African countries.
“Egypt welcomes cooperation with all international partners to establish security and achieve African economic development,” El-Sisi said. “Investment in Africa means investment in the future.”
Speaking about terror, he said that it posed “increasing risks that lead to the destabilisation of societies, which requires everyone to make vigorous and sincere efforts to uproot this abhorrent phenomenon, which is the first threat to the pursuit of development, including cracking down on terrorist groups and organisations."
Links between instability and migration
Following his speech, El-Sisi and Romania's President Klaus Iohannis, whose country currently holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, joined conference chairman Wolfgang Ischinger for a forum session.
Ischinger asked El-Sisi and Iohannis to talk about expectations for an upcoming EU-Arab League summit, to be held later this month in Sharm El Sheikh.
“Stability and security in the Arab region will be our priority … and effects the stability and security of our friends in Europe,” El-Sisi said.
“We have seen the instability in our Arab region or some Arab regions have an impact on stability in Europe. If we talk about migration, for example, this is a phenomenon that is caused by instability in some countries, for instance.
“The displacement of some people, leaving home in the direction of Europe … we need in this current phase to further our communications, dialogue and coordination to find a common ground even more than before, to tackle the common issues. The conference that will be in Sharm El-Sheikh will be a good opportunity and a fundamental step that will be followed by further steps,” he said.
Iohannis echoed the point. “We need more, better stronger collaboration,” he said, adding that the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh will focus on economic development and cooperation.
The Egyptian president said that Egypt hosts five million refugees, but they do not live in refugee camps, they are merged within Egyptian society.
He then pointed to the construction of the largest church in the Middle East, in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital, as an example of the values of coexistence on display.