File Photo: Members of the Egyptian parliament at the main headquarters of Parliament in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian MPs were keen to issue statements Sunday to welcome the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Luxor and Cairo Sunday and Monday.
Macron is expected to arrive in Luxor Sunday evening and then begin an official visit to Cairo where he will meet with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi Monday.
MPs said the visit is expected to usher in a new strategic relationship between Paris and Cairo in political, military and economic terms.
Talaat El-Sewedy, head of parliament’s energy and environment committee, said Macron’s visit will have a very positive impact on economic relations between France and Egypt.
“In economic terms, the commercial exchange between Egypt and France has reached 2.7 billion euros, not to mention that as many as 162 French companies are now operating in Cairo with 4.2 billion euros in investments and employing 33,000 workers,” said El-Sewedy, adding: “Macron’s visit will also see the signing of 30 agreements and memorandums of understanding between Paris and Cairo in sectors including health, energy, transport, infrastructure, and education."
El-Sewedy said key economic ministers and members of the Egyptian-French Businessmen Association will hold a meeting Sunday evening to prepare the economic agenda between Egypt and France in the coming period. “This is a very important meeting because French investments in Egypt are increasing all the time,” said El-Sewedy.
El-Sewedy said France is investing in 458 projects in Egypt in the sectors of agriculture, industry, tourism, information technology, construction, services and military equipment. “Not to mention that a number of French companies are currently implementing the third line of Cairo’s underground metro, and building the Kasr El-Aini Hospital in Downtown Cairo,” said El-Sewedy.
Soliman Wahdan, deputy parliament speaker, also said in a statement that President El-Sisi and French President Macron have developed a close and personal relationship that had had a positive impact on the two countries.
“Since he came to office in 2014, President El-Sisi has been keen to strengthen relations with France, particularly in military terms, and in return France showed a positive response,” said Wahdan, adding: “France has become a major supplier of arms to Egypt as President El-Sisi was eager not to depend on one source of armament.” Wahdan continued: “Egypt under El-Sisi concluded many military deals with France, mainly focused on importing Rafal fighters, Mistra warships, and those reflected a landmark development in relations between the two countries.”
“France and Egypt have one political agenda; that is fighting terrorist movements and illegal migration in the Mediterranean basin and the African continent,” Wahdan said.
Wahdan added that Egypt will be the chair of the African Union in 2019 and this is very important to France. “France has close relations with African countries and is keen to coordinate with Egypt on African affairs,” said Wahdan.
Amr Sedki, head of parliament’s tourism committee, said President Macron’s visit sends a positive message to the world, and Europe in particular, that Egypt has recovered as a major tourist destination in the Middle East.
“Egypt is exerting tremendous efforts to recover European tourism, and the visit of President Macron should be used by the Egyptian government and Minister of Tourism Rania El-Mashat to turn Egypt again to a major tourist destination for Europeans in all seasons,” said Sedki.
Sedki said strong relations between Egypt and France have extended to include the cultural and parliamentary fields.
“The year 2019 will be a year of culture between Egypt and France and the two countries are expected to see the holding of many cultural events in Cairo and Paris,” Sedki said, adding that, “The year 2019 will mark the 120th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s French expedition to Egypt (1899).”