Address by H.E. Mr. Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister, the Arab Republic of Egypt, on ‘Regional Developments and Prospects of India- Egypt Relations
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On the side lines of his recently concluded visit to India, H.E. Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt, addressed a wide galaxy of foreign and security policy experts, including representatives from the government’s agencies, diplomatic missions, academia and media personnel among others, on ‘Regional Developments and Prospects of India-Egypt Relations’, at the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) on 22 Mar 2018. Following his talk, the MInister engaged the audience in an interactive session.

H.E. Shoukry, who was in India for the Seventh Meeting of the bilateral Joint Commission, spoke candidly across a wide spectrum of regional and bilateral issues ahead of his scheduled meeting with the Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj the following day. The Minister commenced his talk highlighting an upward trajectory in India-Egypt relations. He underscored that India and Egypt share a strong relationship based on shared values and mutual respect. The tapestry of historical and cultural links between the two countries are so strong, the Minister noted, that “it feels like coming home”. Egypt was one of the first nations India developed diplomatic ties with soon after independence. From a historical perspective, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Bandung Conference of 1955 laid the foundation for a strong bilateral relations between India and Egypt, with the relationship passing by changes on the international arena and the Cold War and the contemporary opportunities and challenges posed by globalisation.

Egypt and India have long advocated the principles of non-use of force in international relations, economic cooperation, and peaceful settlement of disputes, even as they remain relentlessly committed to combating terrorism, and have convergence of views to deal with the menace, the Minister pointed out. Indicating Egypt’s keenness to broaden ties with India in a whole range of areas, including cooperation in maintaining and reforming the existing international order and meeting challenges posed by climate change, the visiting dignitary from Egypt said that he was impressed with India’s economic accomplishments, especially in the industrial and technological sectors and in elevating multitudes of its citizens into the middle class. While the Minister looked for broader cooperation between Egypt and India, he also urged India to support Egypt through direct investments for the mutual benefit of both countries.

Among other highlights of his talk, the Minister dwelt upon the Middle East’s overall political and security environment - Syria and Palestinian crisis in particular. In so far the Middle East is concerned, the challenge is to achieve changes within the nation-state. Revived, reformed modern states based on ethics is the only idea for peace in the Middle East. As for Syria, the Minister said, “Assuming that we can reverse clock in Syria is a delusional idea. We must support the regional aspirations of Syrians to rebuild their own state.” Speaking for his country’s stance in the Syrian conflict, Shoukry said that Egypt has never supported the sectarian militias or fundamentalist organisations. Besides, Egypt’s vision and assessment of developments in the Libyan crisis and his country’s endeavors to help Libyans build their national consensus and restore security and stability in their country were also outlined by him.

Significantly, the Minister highlighted that India can play an active role in resolving the long outstanding conflict between Israel and Palestine. India has a vibrant relationship with all countries in the region. “India has traditionally taken positions supportive to the stability and security of the region of the Middle East and has never been in conflict with the principles”, he said. In reference to the Palestinian crisis, the Egyptian Minister underlined Prime Minister Modi’s “special ability to move the process forward”. Asked to respond on the agenda of his upcoming bilateral talks with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, he said the two sides will discuss “with great attention the bilateral relationship to enhance it in all fields, be it political, economic, cultural and military sector”. Responding to a question on military ties between the two countries, Shoukry said, “Defence is an important area of cooperation, whether in enhancing coordination between the security services or our common fight against terrorism”.

Event Date: 
March 22, 2018