Qatar must change behaviour before normalisation can occur: Egypt's FM Shoukry

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Feb 2019

File Photo: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (AP)

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry says that Egypt has not normalised relations with Qatar, and that a return to normal relations necessitates a change in the Gulf country's behaviour to a way that does not negatively affect the interests of the Egyptian state and people.

Shoukry made the statements during a televised interview on Monday with Egyptian channels on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

"The crisis with Qatar is still ongoing, especially as the situation has not changed since the four anti-terrorism bloc countries -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt -- decided to boycott the Gulf state," Shoukry said.

Shoukry affirmed that the position of the four Arab bloc countries is firm and that they are continuing to coordinate to strengthen their stances and policies regarding Qatar.

The Egyptian foreign minister also affirmed that he has not heard from any of the Arab partners of a desire to reconcile with Qatar in response to international or regional pressure.

Egypt and several arab countries decided to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017 citing its support for Islamist groups and attempts at destabilisation within the region.

On the negotiations regarding Ethiopia's Renaissance Damn, Shoukry said the past nine months have seen a stalemate and that Cairo has called for a tripartite meeting of foreign and irrigation ministers from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in Cairo on 20 February to discuss the matter.

Shoukry said that during the AU summit, the leaders of the three countries "affirmed their commitment to the declaration of principles signed in March 2015, which stipulates that Egypt's water interests are not to be harmed and acknowledges Ethiopia's rights to development, and that any technical consultations are to be based on those principles."

"Egypt believes the GERD issue is scientific and technical. So far, the three countries have not achieved a unified vision on how to deal with the issues of filling and operating the dam, but Egypt is determined to reach a solution that is satisfactory to all parties," Shoukry said.

"Egypt knows its interest and is capable of defending them," Shoukry added. 

On Libya, Shoukry described Turkey's role in the country as "worrying," hoping it will not extend to any other countries on the continent.

"Foreign interventions waste any opportunities to resolve the crisis in Libya," Shoukry said, affirming that Egypt supports a political solution as a means of reaching a solution in Libya.

"In this regard, we have maintained our clear stance against all who support terrorist organisations and militias in Libya," he added.

Shoukry affirmed that foreign and regional intervention is a primary reason for the spread of terrorism and instability in Libya. 

On Egypt's chairmanship of the African Union in 2019, which started on Sunday, Shoukry affirmed that Egypt aims to maintain a stable policy without bias or polarisation.

"The freezing of the membership of Egypt in the African Union in 2013 was a sad moment due to a misunderstanding about the reality of the situation in Egypt," Shoukry said, referring to the AU freezing Egypt's membership following the ouster of the country's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Shoukry also said that all efforts to solve the problems of the continent are supported by the United Nations, adding that Africa is rich with resources, which had historically made it a target for colonial powers.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi received the chairmanship of the African Union from Rwandan President Paul Kagame the opening ceremony of the 32nd African Summit on Sunday.

El-Sisi said that the African Union will work on boosting the foundations of sustainable development and paving the way for a "prosperous" Africa.

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