Egypt is in need of support from European Union countries, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt told a press conference after meeting Visegrad Group leaders in Budapest on Tuesday.
El-Sisi thanked Visegrad Group leaders for their support. While their backing is important, the leaders of western European countries should also understand that “Egypt’s leadership respects its people and strives for development”, he said.
Egypt needs support to improve its political, economic and cultural situation rather than “being called out on human rights”, he said.
The question is whether “Europe is ready to offer brotherhood to Egypt,” by offering cooperation with its universities, and by “taking its industry there to provide jobs for Egyptians.”
Unless those needs are answered, “we cannot talk about legal standards,” he said.
The Egyptian government has “spent trillions of Egyptian pounds” in the past years on improving infrastructure and water management in rural Egypt, home to some 60 million people, he said.
On the issue of migration, el-Sisi noted that
Egypt has not allowed “a single ship transporting migrants to leave Egyptian ports” since 2016.
At the same time, the country has received some 6 million migrants from African countries and treated them as “guests … they are taught at our schools and treated in our hospitals,” he said.
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said the meeting was “further proof that Egypt was one of the most important parrtners in the Middle East”, with great impact on the region’s political and security challenges, such as the fight against terrorism and curbing migration.
Egypt’s “exemplary” way of handling migration should remain sustainable, Heger said. Egypt’s security and stability has direct consequences for the stability of central and eastern Europe, he said.
Slovakia “welcomes and supports full political dialogue and cooperation between the European Union and Egypt, he said.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the meeting was “an important step towards the stabilisation of the European Union”. “Calm” in the Middle East, and opportunities for social and economic development, are key to preventing terrorism and migration, he said.
The Visegrad Group will “try to convince the EU’s western states” of the importance of economic cooperation with Egypt, Morawiecki said. He praised Egypt for “stopping migration towards Europe” five years ago. The Visegrad Group would like to help in that task, he said.
Migration should be “solved where the problem is” by fostering economic development there, he said.
Poland has already sent coronavirus vaccines to Egypt and is slated to send a “few hundred thousand doses” more, he said.
Morawiecki also praised Orban as a “consummate chess player” able to “think a few steps ahead and foresee danger”. Brussels should follow the Visegrad Group’s lead, which puts weight on security, on preventing terrorism, and on economic cooperation with other countries “under the leadership of Hungary and Viktor Orban.”