EU to approach Egypt again on election monitoring

Dina Ezzat , Friday 8 Jul 2011

Despite refusing the EU's initial offer to provide observers for the upcoming parliamentary elections, officials in Brussels are intent on renewing their offer

Photo: (Reuters)

With the reluctance of Cairo to receive European Union observers to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections in September, the 27 member state, according to most of the concerned European officials in Brussels, has taken the position that they have no intention to pressure the north African state which it grants considerable economic assistance. Rather there is a clear intent to make the offer again

The statement made Wednesday in Cairo by the European Commission’s Ambassador to Egypt Marc Franco reflected the clear disappointment in Brussels at Cairo’s decision to fully decline any observation of the parliamentary elections.

European officials speaking off-the-record to Ahram Online said that this does not reflect positively on the intentions of Egypt’s authorities. "My point is that if you are planning to have transparent elections then why not have observers," according to one. She added that this Egyptian decision would not immediately prompt a negative reaction with regards to the announced economic assistance package.

"I would not say it is not more democracy and that we should not be giving more assistance," said another European official. He was referring to the recently announced European policy of 'more for more' by which Europeans promised more economic assistance to Arab countries in the next three years in return for more democratisation on the part of these countries.

However, he added the “clear criteria” by which the European Union will decide its future assistance to Egypt is one of democratisation. They argue that Egypt deserve to be supported for its decision to pursue liberty and overthrow its decades-old authoritarian regime, for its trial of the leading members of the previous regimes and for the positive influence it could have on the whole Arab region – once it is fully stable and sustainably democratic.

The breakdown of the democratisation recipe, according to European officials in Brussels and European parliamentarians in Strasbourg, includes a constitution that allows for the equality of all citizens with no discrimination, the observation of human rights and the right of the people to elect governments and to kick them out

"What we saw in Tahrir reflects the indivisibility of all rights for Egyptians – civil and political rights," said Jacqueline Hale, member of the Open Society Institute.

For Gregoire Thery of the International Federation for Human Rights, the observation of the rights of women and Copts in Egypt is also something that the concerned civil society quarters in Europe would be observing closely with an eye on lending advice and views to the European decision makers.

And while some in Brussels may anticipate a change of mind on the side of the Egyptian authorities on the decision to invite EU elections observers, others are coming to terms with the fact that this is not happening and that the best thing to do is to provide the technical assistance required to members of Egypt’s civil society who could be observing the elections.

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