Exclusive-Interview/IBNA: Sahem Shoukry Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt

Exclusive-Interview/IBNA: Sahem Shoukry Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt

Rhodes, September 11, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Regarding your expectations from the Conference on Security and Stability in Rhodes; how necessary are these policy priorities?

It’s a very good initiative on the part of the Greek Foreign Minister. I think it demonstrates the very constructive role that Greece plays in the Eastern Mediterranean as a stabilizing force, a force of reconciliation and accommodation. To bring about this grouping with long history of cooperation, common understanding and ability to forge a common approach to many of the challenges that exist and to have a dialogue of a transparent and deep nature, taking advantage of a long process of association and mutual respect and understanding can lead to most productive solutions and ability to withstand the many challenges that the Eastern Mediterranean faces. We need to stabilize this region for the benefit of its people so that we can provide for them the services that are necessary and we also need to be able to face the challenges of the very many conflicts that exist. The rise of international terrorism, the association between the various terrorist groups operating in this region and beyond, and also the developing challenges of illegal immigration and migration flows. All of these cannot be dealt with individually by any one state but we need collaboration and cooperation between likeminded states and especially those of the eastern Mediterranean with their long heritage of cooperation.


The cooperation between Greece, Egypt and Cyprus will be opened to other countries of the region?

At the moment we are more concentrating on developing and enhancing the trilateral cooperation. This format exists between Greece and Cyprus and other countries in the eastern Mediterranean and might be developed also. But we believe that to maintain the concentration and now as we enter into a developmental stage where there are specific areas of cooperation and projects we are implementing, we believe it is important that we maintain our focus and our ability to work together trilaterally in the implementation of the projects that have been decided by the three leaders when they met during the last summer. And we are looking forward to the forthcoming summit that Egypt will be hosting, during which we will initiate the projects of cooperation in the fields of tourism, fisheries and the olive groves. We hope that this relationship will continue to flourish and of course we are looking very closely at the areas of cooperation in the natural gas area and the best utilization of our natural resources and the complementary nature of the relationship so that we can take advantage of each other’s competitive edge where it exists.

Do you have any plans about the EEZ? I read in an article in Al Shorouk that you plan in the next weeks to recognize the EEZ between Greece and Egypt. The maritime border…

It is a matter that we are still discussing and negotiating. It’s a complicated issue because of the nature, interconnectivity and relationships between other countries of the region. But we are determined to find a beneficial solution to some of the areas that we have been discussing. We will initiate direct, formal dialogue so that again we could find points of convergence related to this issue.


Regarding Egypt’s relations with the EU. Do you feel that you are helped by the cooperation with Greece and Cyprus?

Egypt is very appreciative of the position that Greece has taken, primarily as an advocate of Egypt. Greece has a deep understanding of the developments in Egypt. The recognition comes from the long, historic association between the two countries and the modern association where we have had the interchange between peoples of a very large volume. This has enabled Greece to be more able to assess and evaluate conditions and developments in Egypt and thereby is able to convey to its European partners a more realistic interpretation and evaluation of the situation in Egypt and the importance of Egyptian security and stability so as to enable Egypt, after a period of transition, of turbulence since the revolutions of both the 25th of January and the 30th, to now as we have reestablished our institutions of governance, are well set on a policy of political, social and economic reform that Egypt, comprising almost a third of the Arab world in terms of population, must be supported by its European neighborhood so that it could continue to provide the best interests of 90 million Egyptians and that these 90 million Egyptians are productive and an anchor of stability for the whole region.

If we are seeing the consequences of the anarchy and the fragmentation of countries like Libya, Syria, like Iraq and the political and military strife that is undergoing, it is Egypt’s stability that can help to regain the stability and preserve the territorial integrity and provide for political solutions to the crisis of the region. Thereby we highly appreciate the efforts that Greece has undertaken in association with Cyprus and other Mediterranean countries that are also cognizant of developments in Egypt, value security and understand the potential dangers for instability in Egypt.