EU conservatives support Morsi ouster, call for inclusion of Brotherhood

Amer Sultan in London, Tuesday 19 Nov 2013

In an interview with Ahram Online, a representative of a group of EU parliamentarians says that Morsi's ouster was necessary, that the military had to intervene but called for political reconciliation

Martin Callanan
EU parliamentarian Martin Callanan

An influential rightwing grouping within the European Parliament has stressed their support for the ouster of Mohamed Morsi while emphasising that the Egyptian military had to intervene to oust the former president, but has at times used "disproportionate force" against protesters.

Martin Callanan, the chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, told Ahram Online that the Egyptian military had to intervene to oust the former president in July.

"There was a serious risk of major bloodshed and possibly even civil war between the Coptic Christians and hard-line Muslim Brotherhood supporters," he said.

"The economy was on a downward spiral, as the Brotherhood proved totally incapable of running a modern economy," he added.

Callanan, a member of the British Conservative Party, refused to say whether his group considers the removal of Mohamed Morsi in July to be a coup or a revolution.

"While in general we are opposed to military intervention to depose elected governments, the Egyptian situation was critical, with millions of people taking to the streets in protest at president Morsi's attempts to arrogate all levers of power and turn the country into a one-party Islamist dictatorship," he said.

While ECR tends to support the Egyptian army intervention against the elected president, Callanan strongly criticises some of the armed forces' practices.  

"It is clear that disproportionate force has been used at times by the armed forces to restore law and order in a revolutionary situation," he said.  

The Egyptian authorities have admitted that hundreds of protesters have been killed since Morsi's ouster. They blame the supporters of the toppled president for the killings.

"Of course, the ECR condemns all such acts, and demands that they be fully investigated with the perpetrators brought to justice," said Callanan.

Callanan said that the future participation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the political process is an internal Egyptian matter, but did call for political reconciliation and inclusivity.

"Previous attempts at banning the Muslim Brotherhood have proved counter-productive and difficult to enforce," he said.

ECR is also following closely the ongoing process of amending the Egyptian constitution.

"There are now hopes that a new constitution being drafted will include new checks and balances on the power of the executive, and in particular, safeguards for religious minorities, women," Callanan said.

He further called on the current regime in Egypt to working hard towards a "swift return to full democratic rule."

The rightwing grouping, which was formed in June 2009 by 53 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from ten different countries, has in previous statements stressed the importance of Israel's security in relation to Egyptian political developments.

When former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February 2011, at the peak of the 2011 revolution, ECR expressed its deep concern that any political vacuum would be filled by Islamists. The group's leaders warned that any Islamist rule in Egypt would threaten Israel.

Four days after Mubarak's departure, Charles Tannock, the group's foreign affairs spokesman , commented: "the EU should make our help to this new Egypt conditional on preserving the peace treaty, and not countenance supporting any political developments in the country that threaten the security of our strategic ally [Israel]."

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