Sisi, EU Commission president agree on regular coordination on tackling impacts of Ukrainian crisis

Amr Kandil , Sunday 10 Apr 2022

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi agreed with President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen on ensuring regular coordination to formulate joint initiatives and efforts within the framework of tackling global repercussions of the Ukraine crisis.

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A compiled photo of Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Egyptian Presidency

In a phone call on Sunday, El-Sisi and Von der Leyen discussed means of dealing with the global repercussions of the crisis, especially regarding supplies of the various forms of energy as well as food security and supply-chain disruptions, Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Rady said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the EU announced that it will provide Egypt with a grant worth €100 million in response to the surging food prices on the heels of Russia’s war on Ukraine. This came only few days after Egypt called on France as the current EU president to provide economic and political support to help Egypt mitigate the impacts of the global crisis.

Egypt, which mainly relies on Ukraine and Russia for wheat imports as well as tourism, has been working to mitigate the impacts of the crisis by diversifying wheat imports and tourism markets.

In March, Egypt also officially requested support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to implement the country’s comprehensive economic programme shortly after the government let the Egyptian pound depreciate by 14 percent — the highest decline in five years — in light of the crisis.

Amid a hike in the global prices of oil and gas due to the crisis and the EU’s plan to reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas, European countries are also believed to look at Egypt as a major alternative, given that the country has achieved self-sufficiency in natural gas since 2018.

In March, German Ambassador to Egypt Frank Hartmann said Germany aims to reduce its dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of this year, seeking out alternate sources, including Egypt.

In a meeting with the Egyptian press, along with Head of the European Delegation in Egypt Christian Berger, Hartmann pointed out that Egypt can export electricity to Europe through an undersea cable going to Greece given Egypt’s surplus in electric capacity.

Enhancing Egyptian-EU relations

During her phone call with El-Sisi, Von der Leyen voiced the EU’s appreciation for its special and strong relations with Egypt, affirming the union’s keenness to continue boosting cooperation with the country at all levels, Rady said.

This comes in light of the joint interest between the two sides in dealing with all the challenges facing the Middle East and Africa, given Egypt’s pivotal role in the region, she added.

El-Sisi also affirmed Egypt’s keenness to boost relations with the EU as a strategic partner in all fields and to maintain coordination and consultations on regional and international issues and challenges facing the two sides.

The Egyptian president also called for expanding the scope of cooperation with the EU in all fields, according to Rady.

Furthermore, El-Sisi and Von der Leyen expressed satisfaction over the overall development in the institutional cooperation between Egypt and the EU on the political, economic, and developmental levels.

This comes especially in light of El-Sisi’s latest visit to Brussels, during which he affirmed the need for continuing coordination and enhancing dialogue to support the friendly relations between Egypt and the EU given the joint challenges that they face, the spokesperson stressed.

El-Sisi visited Brussels in February to attend the Sixth European Union-African Union Summit. During the visit, he held meetings with EU leaders as well as a number of heads of state and government.

The president held separate meetings with Von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, during which they discussed the Libyan crisis, counterterrorism cooperation, efforts to face irregular migration, and enhancing Egyptian-EU relations.

El-Sisi also discussed during his meeting with Von der Leyen in Brussels the latest developments in the fields of renewable energy, infrastructure and green transformation in light of Egypt’s hosting of the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP27) that is scheduled for November in the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

In January, Von der Leyen affirmed in a phone call with El-Sisi the EU’s interest in coordinating the president over critical regional and international issues, including the hosting of the COP27.

Egypt has been coordinating with international partners to build on the success of the COP26 that was held in Glasgow, UK and turn climate-related pledges into actions, especially regarding adaptation, carbon emission reduction, and funding for developing countries to face climate change.

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