EU-Egypt Association Council: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell upon arrival

(Source: EEAS)

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I am so happy to receive here my friend, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Egypt [Sameh Shoukry]. Tomorrow he will address the Foreign Affairs Council, have a lunch with all the [Foreign] Ministers. It has been a busy time in our relationship – the President of the [European] Commission [Ursula von der Leyen] was in Cairo the other day – and today we are going to approve at the Association Council, the Priorities of our partnership. For the next five years this will be the guide for our action.

Allow me to put on the table during our meeting that we want to be – and I think we are – the most reliable partner. We invest, we trade, we support Egyptian people, and we want to continue doing that.

On the priorities of our partnership, we will be focusing on building a sustainable economy, mainly on the green and digital transition, on sharing our partnership on foreign affairs – no need to mention the importance that Egypt is playing in the region – without you, the region would be in much worse shape. And also, we will continue advancing in our common commitments on human rights and the rule of law, in which we are finding the way to work together.

I am not going to go into the details, but you know that we are going to support on the food security issue, which certainly will be one of the most important topics in which we have to engage. The war in Ukraine has distorted everything and we have to support – on the food side – many people in the world and also the Egyptians. The figures are on the table; we talk about €100 million, but the important thing is not the amount of money, but the importance of our partnership built on a common understanding of many issues in the world; foreign affairs, sustainable economy, and human rights and rule of law.

Thank you, Minister.

 

Q&A

Q. You mentioned that Egypt is one of the most important partners for the European Union. Should we expect some extra help in one of the most delicate subjects, which is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, especially before the third filler? When you mentioned that you will help Egypt in food security can you give more details about this?

On the food security, [the European Union] has already put on the table an important amount of money, and Egypt will be the most important beneficiary: we are talking about €100 million just for Egypt. But the whole region will receive an amount which – in the next 7 years – will reach €1 billion. But immediately – and I mean immediately, in the next weeks, months – Egypt will receive €100 million in order to support the agriculture and the stockpiling of food for the difficult times that we are facing. That is what I am talking about, and certainly with Egypt we have to talk also about how to cooperate with the United Nations on the efforts to de-block Ukrainian exports. There are 20 million tons of wheat missing in the international market. 20 million tons make a lot of bread. And a lot of people, if we do not de-block the Ukrainian ports, will be in severe conditions.

Certainly, we will talk about the dam. Certainly, how not? But I do not think there is anything that I can comment now, before discussing that with the Minister.

Q. You spoke about the risk of global food catastrophe if the exports do not resume from Ukraine. How to avoid it while the military credible sources, as Mr Stoltenberg said this morning in an interview that the Alliance [NATO] has to prepare for a war that can take years and years. You spoke in your blog on the risk of this global food catastrophe, so how to avoid it?

It is not me who is warning. It is the United Nations Secretary General [António Guterres], with the authority of the Secretary General of the United Nations, who has been warning that the world is facing a food catastrophe: this are the right words. It is not the will to create alarm but saying – as I was explaining a moment ago – that 20 million [of wheat] now, and 60 million after the next harvest has to be sent to the international markets from Ukraine. If this does not happen, certainly a lot of people will not have wheat to eat. And we are supporting the United Nations in the efforts they are doing, diplomatic efforts, in order for the Russians to allow the ships to go to Odessa with the controls they want to have on the partnership with other states – several Member States of the European Union have already expressed their will to participate – and this would require demining of humanitarian corridors, it would require a ceasefire to bring the wheat to the ports. This has to be done.

Q. Is the [European] Union ready to participate in demining?

We participate in anything that we are being asked for.

Thank you.

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