Egypt, Serbia launch strategic partnership, sign series of deals as Sisi pays first visit to Belgrade

Ahram Online , Wednesday 20 Jul 2022

Egypt and Serbia launched on Wednesday an integrated strategic partnership and signed a series of agreements covering several fields, as the Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is paying his first visit to the Republic of Serbia and the first by an Egyptian president since 1987.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić during a joint press conference in Belgrade on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Egypt’s Presidential Spokesperson)


The deals — signed during a ceremony attended by El-Sisi and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić — included a host of memoranda of understanding (MoUs)in the fields of higher education, agriculture, arts and culture, environment protection, and others.

The deals also included an MoU between Radio Television of Serbia and the Egyptian National Media Authority, and an MoU between the Museum of African Arts in Serbia and the Museum of Civilisation in Egypt.

Additionally, an MoU was signed between the Serbian Development Agency and the Egyptian General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), and another one between the Serbian Development Agency and the Enterprise Development Agency in the field of small and medium enterprises.

El-Sisi landed in Belgrade on Tuesday in the first visit by an Egyptian president to Serbia since July 1987, during the tenure of late Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

On Wednesday, El-Sisi held high-level consultations with his Serbian counterpart in which the two leaders touched upon means of enhancing bilateral relations between both nations at various levels.

In a joint press conference with Vučić following their talks, El-Sisi said the visit comes at a vital time to reflect how Egypt is keen to further its bilateral relations with Serbia.

El-Sisi added that today’s meeting is a culmination of the joint efforts exerted by both countries to advance bilateral cooperation.

He added that the integrated strategic framework launched on Wednesday outlines a common vision for the various aspects of cooperation between Egypt and Serbia, as well as ways to advance them.

“The partnership confirms our common political will in this regard and paves the way for a new phase of the partnership linking the two countries,” the Egyptian president added. 

Furthermore, El-Sisi asserted that he agreed with Vučić on pressing ahead with mechanisms of political consultations between the two countries, in addition to discussions through the Joint Committee for Economic, Technical, and Scientific Cooperation.

They also agreed to look into the possibility of enhancing cooperation between the two countries in the fields of trade, investment, tourism, communications, and IT.

Additionally, the Egyptian president welcomed boosting cooperation with the Serbian side in various fields, especially the military, economy, trade, and tourism.

Moreover, he highlighted the consensus of visions between Egypt and Serbia on regional and international situations, adding that the state of instability in the international arena requires joint action by countries that share similar orientations, especially in the areas of energy and regional security.

El-Sisi also shed light on the deeply rooted Egyptian-Serbian ties, especially at the level of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), expressing Cairo’s interest in developing these relations in all fields, pursuing coordination and political consultation, and exploring aspects of cooperation between them.

He added that Egyptian-Serbian diplomatic ties date back to 1908, praising the role of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel-Nasser and former Serbian president Josip Tito in laying the foundation of the movement. 

In October, Serbia celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first conference it hosted for the NAM.

For his part, Vučić said both countries are working on establishing a direct airline from Belgrade to Cairo by March to make it easier for businesspeople to invest in Serbia and Egypt.

He also pointed out that the negotiations on free trade between both nations will be completed by the end of October.

“There is a lot of room for cooperation in the field of military industry, but there are also huge opportunities in health care, both in the form of exchange and scholarships for students,” he added.

Furthermore, the Serbian president said that his country is keen on bolstering its relations with Egypt at all levels, adding that the North African state plays a “pivotal role as a pillar of stability, security, and peace in the Middle East and Africa.”

He added that Egypt has achieved a “remarkable development boom” in recent years, indicating that Belgrade looks forward to enhancing mutual investments with Cairo in many sectors and augment trade exchange volume.

Vučić also indicated that Serbia seeks “a qualitative leap” in its economic relations with Egypt, especially through the participation of Serbian companies in the implementation of giant national projects in the country.

Both presidents also discussed the developments of a number of regional and international issues of mutual interest, notably the war in Ukraine and its repercussions on the global economy. 

El-Sisi reiterated that the Egyptian stance seeks a peaceful solution to the conflict and expressed willingness to exert all possible efforts — whether at the bilateral, regional, or international levels — to achieve that end and spare the peoples of the world the negative repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian War.

The talks also tackled the situation in the east Mediterranean, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, and Libya. 

In this respect, the Serbian president said Egypt plays a positive role in the pursuit of political settlements for all existing crises in its regional milieu, as well as reinforcing bridges of dialogue between African, Arab, and European countries.

He also praised Egypt’s efforts to combat extremist ideologies and irregular migration, as well as establish principles and values of acceptance of others, freedom of choice, and tolerance.

Following the presser, the Serbian president bestowed the Order of the Republic of Serbia upon his Egyptian counterpart. 

El-Sisi then thanked Vučić for the honourable gesture, expressing his aspiration that the next period will witness more cooperation and coordination between both countries.

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