Nicosia summit: President Sisi says Egypt never used refugees issue to blackmail European partners

Ahram Online , Wednesday 21 Oct 2020

The summit praised Egypt’s efforts to face illegal immigration and host more than five million refugees

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi speaks during a joint press conference with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis after a trilateral summit between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus October 21, 2020. REUTERS

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said the Nicosia summit on Wednesday hailed Egypt’s success to stop illegal immigration across its coasts and host millions of refugees, affirming that Egypt never used this to obtain political or financial gains.

The summit also praised Egypt’s management to host more than five million refugees, El-Sisi said in a press conference after the summit with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“The summit praised Egypt’s efforts to face illegal immigration, host more than five million refugees, who enjoy full rights and basic services available for Egyptian citizens and stop flows of illegal immigration from its coasts since 2016, relying on its own capabilities and based on its moral responsibility,” said El-Sisi.

The president also mentioned that Egypt “never resorted at any stage to use this issue as a tool for negotiations or blackmailing with its European partners to achieve financial or political goals.”

In October last year, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “open the grates and send 3.6 million refugees” to Europe, in case European leaders designated the Turkish operations in Syria as an “occupation,” Reuters reported.

His remarks came while speaking to officials from his ruling AK Party, according to Reuters.

On the other hand, Ehab Fawzy, the Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Security, said earlier this month that Egypt is committed to providing security and all its services to refugees and asylum seekers in the country. He affirmed the need to maintain equality among all refugees, regardless of their nationalities.

Egypt hosts 249,709 registered refugees and asylum-seekers from 57 countries, according to a fact sheet published by the UNHCR in August 2019. Syrians represent more than half of the figure with a population of 130,371, followed by Sudanese at 45,106 and South Sudanese at 17,197. The agency said the funds requested for refugee operations in Egypt were $104.2 million as of August 2019.

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