John Kerry US Secretary of State, right, meets with Nabil Fahmy, left, Foreign Minister of Egypt who is in New York for the 68th session of UN General Assembly Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013 (Photo: AP)
Egyptian representatives, headed by Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi, will join other global delegations this afternoon in New York to attend the inauguration of the UN General Assembly, with a clear message: 'Things are moving forward in Egypt.'
Fahmi, who arrived in New York earlier in the week, has been meeting with counterparts from various nations, including the US, UK and China.
Addressing his interlocutors, the senior Egyptian diplomat is making three key statements: Events for the most part are on the right track in Egypt, despite inevitable hiccups; the state is committed to a transitional process that will result in a referendum on an amended – and hopefully less controversial – constitution, and a full democratic process will be pursued.
The assembly meeting is the first large-scale international appearance for Egyptian officials following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi by the military amid mass popular protests against his rule.
Egyptian diplomats have commented that, 'for the most part,' the reaction of interlocutors of the Foreign Minister are 'on the positive side.'
“We are firmly beyond the 'coup or not a coup debate'; the world accepts that Egypt has turned the page on the rule of Morsi,” one diplomat commented.
“There is less apprehension about the fate of democracy in Egypt, but it would be an exaggeration to say that it has gone completely; we still hear statements and questions regarding the inclusion of Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, in the political process,” another added.
Egyptian representatives admit the Fahmi-headed delegation in New York is not without ‘diplomatic incident,’ with news suggesting there may be a show of dismay by UN member states or Egyptian and Arab ex-pats in New York - in statements or demonstrations - over political developments in July.
However, according to a governmental official, no showdown is expected. “We had been worried about one, but things seem to be moving in a positive direction.”
The official added that "concern over [Adly] Mansour being interim-president" led to a decision against a “tentative plan” for him to head the Egyptian delegation to New York.
Government officials admit this month has seen international hesitation towards Egypt, and that the consultations of Fahmi and Egyptian diplomatic missions overseas have ensured Egypt's participation in both an annual international business conference on the Middle East in England and a meeting for the DeVille Initiative in New York, to be held on the fringes of the UNGA tomorrow.
“We have been working hard; we managed to get a few countries to re-send their ambassadors after they had been summoned for consultation in the wake of the removal of President Morsi, and we are making some progress on boosting international tourism – it is still small scale, but it is happening,” said a senior Egyptian diplomat.
Government officials assert that a referendum on the constitution and preparations for parliamentary elections, scheduled for the end of this year or early next, will help a great deal in reassuring the world that the intervention of the military to remove Morsi in July was not about the desire to rule, but in accordance with the will of the Egyptian people.
Some officials argue, however, that this message might be undermined if army Commander General and Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah El-Sissi decides to ‘bow to public pressure’ and ‘the pressure of some security quarters’ and run for elections.
“We are not sure what will happen by the time of the presidential elections [in the spring of next year], but at this point there are no clear signs that he will run. At any event, the presidential elections, like the parliamentary elections, will be executed under international monitoring,” said a senior government source.
In Fahmy's statement on Egypt to the General Assembly, he will emphasise the willingness of Egypt to open up to the world and be transparent regarding the democratic process.
Fahmi's address is designed, aides of the Foreign Minister say, to be forward looking. “The world has heard enough from us about what has happened and we need to explain now what will happen,” said one.
Apart from detailing the process of democratic transition, Fahmi is expected to emphasise Egypt’s commitment to transitional justice, social justice and a willingness to open up to safe and secure international investments and tourism.
A conference on the sidelines of the New York General Assembly is particularly designed to promote Egypt as an ‘investment desitination.’
Meanwhile, Fahmi is expected to address the commitment of Egypt to resume the key political role in the region it has long been associated with, both in relation to the Arab-Israeli struggle and wider regional stability.
Government officials say that improving the ‘diplomatic posture of Egypt’ is something that Fahmi is already working on. “He is re-examining all regional and international relations with an eye on deciding what to promote next,” said one of the aides of the Foreign Minister. He added that Africa is a key objective for Egypt’s foreign policy in coming months.
In New York, Fahmi has already met with counterparts of several African states. He has also taken part in a Somalian Contact Group meeting.
The African Union had previously suspended Egypt’s participation in activities following the removal of Morsi. “This has to do with the African sensitivity to military coups; that said, we are getting positive vibes from several African countries who seem to have come to terms with the fact that the removal of Morsi was not about a coup but rather about the ouster of a democratically elected president who abandoned democracy the day he stepped into the presidential palace,” said an Egyptian diplomat.