x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Egypt’s commitment to Gulf stability is ‘non-negotiable’, premier says

No country will be permitted to threaten the security of the Arabian Gulf states, Egypt’s prime minister said on Sunday.

Egypt will not allow any country to threaten the security of the GCC, even if the have previously shared in bilateral talks with that country, its Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi says. Christopher Pike / The National
Egypt will not allow any country to threaten the security of the GCC, even if the have previously shared in bilateral talks with that country, its Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi says. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // No country will be permitted to threaten the security of the Arabian Gulf states, Egypt’s prime minister said on Sunday.

Close ties between Iran and the previous Islamist regime in Cairo have no bearing on the relationship between Egypt and the GCC, Hazem El Beblawi said as he ended his visit to Abu Dhabi.

“Any matter that affects the stability of the GCC will directly affect the Egyptian national security,” the prime minister said.

“This matter is non-negotiable and the GCC security is one of the main support points of Egypt’s security.”

Being on good terms with a country that had different points of view did not mean Egypt would side with them, he said.

“Political dialogue with those who have a different opinion is a natural way to remove fears, but the Egyptian stance will not change.

“Egypt is capable of defending its borders and Egypt will not accept any harm on the Gulf’s borders.”

The removal of the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi created a “turning point” in Egypt’s relations with the Arab world and on an international level in general, as opposed to its previous focus on relations with Turkey and Iran.

“Not only has there been political development in Egypt, but in the entire region,” he said.

Mr El Beblawi described the change of government as a “rich and bitter” experience that “did not occur as a result of dreams and illusions”.

He explained that the previous Islamist regime had specific ideologies and had been tested during its reign.

“But it was not successful in running the state and it did bad to itself and many state members,” he said.

Mr El Beblawi also discussed cooperation in the renewable energy field. “The UAE has outstanding efforts in renewable energy and we need this in Egypt, especially in the countryside in a big number of villages they need lighting systems and energy sources,” he said.

“And since the UAE has experience in this field, this is an area for cooperation between the two countries.”

Mr El Beblawi went on to speak about ensuring the continuity of investments from the UAE in light of the continuing developments in Egypt, and said no investments would be affected.

“UAE investors are second-place foreign investors in Egypt, and there is a good number of Egyptian investors in the UAE as well,” he said.

Speaking about a US$5 billion (Dh18.4bn) agreement signed yesterday with the UAE that will go towards development projects in Egypt, Mr El Beblawi said: “Relations between Egypt and the UAE are old and strong and the relationship is not limited to economic agreements, but it extends wider to other areas which include private investments as well.”

When asked about the support given by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, towards repairing the damaged University of Cairo, Mr El Beblawi said the Ruler’s academic role was well known and did not need to be pointed out.

“The best example is the University of Sharjah, even architecturally its building is a work of art,” he said. Dr Sheikh Sultan gave Dh7.4 million towards repairs and the purchase of equipment for the university’s engineering department, which was damaged during riots. The donation, made in August, was one of many approved by the Ruler.

Mr El Beblawi also spoke about Egypt’s proposed new law on public demonstrations, which is being discussed by the cabinet. “We saw a first draft and we presented it to the human rights council, then we discussed it in the cabinet and we are now listening to different opinions.

“Demonstrating is a right for humans but, like any other right, it has limits and should not affect freedom of others, ruin sites, or hurt anyone,” he said.

During his visit Mr El Beblawi met several officials including Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affiars. During his visit he also met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

hdajani@thenational.ae