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Monday, 26 July 2021

EU envoy in Egypt calls for dialogue

Senior EU diplomat Bernardino León said that the organisation had been trying 'for months' prior to Morsi's ouster to persuade the Brotherhood to share power

Passant Darwish , Friday 2 Aug 2013
European Union envoy, Bernardino
European Union envoy, Bernardino (PhotoL Reuters)

A top EU diplomat currently visiting Cairo declined to describe the recent ouster of Mohamed Morsi by the military as a coup d’état.

European Union Special Representative for the Southern Mediterranean Bernardino León said Thursday during an interview on Egyptian channel Al-Hayat that the current situation in Egypt is “very difficult.”

When asked by the presenter whether the EU thinks what happened in Egypt is a coup or another wave of the revolution, León said “it's all together.”

"If you take the situation in this country on 3 July between 2pm and 4pm it's clear that there was military intervention, but you cannot isolate the history. You cannot take just this element of the history without taking into consideration the context," he said.

“The context was millions of people in the streets, and one cannot deny that, so it's a much more complex situation and just to reduce it to one of the elements is not a solution," he added.

Leon declined in the interview to give details about the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's meeting with Morsi earlier this week, but revealed that Morsi was in a “reflective mood” and that the former president “understands that there must be a consensus to overcome this difficult situation.”

Morsi has been held by the military at an undisclosed location since 3 July.

León, who arrived in Cairo on Wednesday, said that that there is a "big gap between both sides" but that there are “signs of hope.”

"Both sides understand very well that confrontation and violence is not the solution; this will lead nowhere," León stated.

"You have moderate people in both camps, and you have radical people in both camps," he said, speaking after meetings with state bodies and visits to the pro-Morsi sit-in in Nasr City.

He expressed concerns that "radicals in both camps are saying the solution is Egyptians killing Egyptians."

At the sit-in outside Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque, which has been ongoing for the past four weeks, León said he met with Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad, and two former ministers in Morsi’s last cabinet, Amr Darrag and Mohamed Ali Beshr.

León said that aside from seeing people with “sticks in their hands” he had not seen any other weapons at the sit-in. However, he added that that doesn't mean there are no weapons.

"The people I saw were peaceful. The people I have talked to are peaceful," he added.

León also met with Vice President for Foreign Affairs Mohamed ElBaradei, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi, and military chief and Defence Minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

The Spanish diplomat said that the solution reached should not be a mediated solution, but should come from Egyptians themselves.

"You are the oldest state in the world and I'm sure you can find this solution together," he said.

Accordingly, León said the only role the international community can play is to encourage Egyptians to find this common ground.

León also said that the European Union had been in negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood government for “months” prior to Morsi’s ouster, to try to convince them that the challenges they face require that the Muslim Brotherhood “shares power.”

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