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Ambassador Surkoš stressed in his remarks the strategic partnership between the EU and Egypt, stating that the country's sustainable stability and development are crucial for all Egyptians, for the entire region and for the EU and its Member States.
After seven years, 2017 saw the holding of the EU-Egypt Association Council and the adoption of the new Partnership Priorities in a spirit of cooperation and stronger engagement between the EU and Egypt. "We acknowledge that the country is undertaking important economic reforms and are committed to support Egypt in this regard," said Surkoš.
EU assistance to Egypt currently stands at more than €1.3 billion in ongoing grant commitments. Together with EU Member States and European Financial Institutions' grants, loans and debt swaps, this figure increases to €11 billion, making the EU the biggest donor to Egypt.
The Head of the EU Delegation underscored the important proactive role the Parliament plays in passing legislation and holding the Government accountable. "The EU has a long-standing experience in supporting parliamentary exchanges in the region and it can surely bring added-value for Egypt's democratic transition."
Democracy and human rights are an integral part of the jointly agreed Partnership Priorities with Egypt. Ambassador Surkoš pointed out that credible, transparent elections are crucial in the strengthening and consolidation of democratic institutions in Egypt as elsewhere.
He mentioned that the EU believes that sustainable security and stability can only be achieved when human rights are fully available, implemented and upheld as guaranteed by the 2014 Constitution and according to Egypt's international commitments. Concerning non-governmental organisations, he reiterated the importance that the EU attaches to an enabling environment for their work.
"I would like to stress the fact that the EU acknowledges the serious challenges posed by the terrorist threats to Egypt's stability and security, and the impact of terrorism on the population. We strongly condemn acts of terrorism in Egypt and we reiterate our solidarity in its fight against terrorism. We are very pleased that countering terrorism is part of EU-Egypt cooperation," stated Surkoš.
He concluded by expressing the EU appreciation of Egypt's work to manage migration challenges, pointing out that the first EU-Egypt High Level Dialogue on Migration last December identified a series of concrete initiatives to address common migration challenges in short and long term.