19 May 2019 08:54 AM

Address by President Sisi at the opening of the First Arab-European Summit

Monday، 25 February 2019 - 01:04 PM
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at the First Arab-European Summit

Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highness Kings, Princes and Heads of State and Government of the Arab and European States

Mr. Donald Tusk President of the European Council,

Mr. Ahmed Abul Gheit Secretary-General of the Arab League,

Mr. Jean-Claude Junker President of the European Commission,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you in this Egyptian dear soil; the City of Peace Sharm El Sheikh, which embodies an unshakable Egyptian conviction and assiduous work to achieve peace, stability and development.

Also, this peaceful city, which all citizens from all over the world visit and communicate altogether, embodies the most sublime values of coexistence and amity.

It gives me a great pleasure that Egypt hosts the first Arab-European Summit, and this is not strange to Egypt, whose history throughout thousands of years, witnessed a unique mixture among civilizations and a rare interactions among peoples.

Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses,

Convening our first summit today with that high profile attendance, is the best proof that what brings the two regions, the Arab and the European, outweighs what divides them.

It also reflects the reciprocal interest and keenness of the Arab and European parties to enhance dialogue and coordination in a collective manner, in order to strengthen the already existing channels of communication at the bilateral level, hoping to reach a common vision and perception over how to deal with the increasing threats and challenges that have posed a threat to our countries and our region, especially that facing such challenges individually is difficult to achieve.

The Arab countries and the European Union have been linked by historical ties of cooperation through the Mediterranean whose strength have relied upon considerations of geographical proximity, cultural expansion, mutual interests throughout decades, in addition to the common values and sincere desire that will continue to bring us together for realizing peace and stability, and facing the growing threats, on top of which is the growing phenomenon of migration and the increasing danger of terrorism, which, unfortunately, has become a tool used by some states to create chaos among their neighbors in an endeavor  to win a status that they don’t deserve at the expense of the security and safety of the region.

Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses,

The threat of abhorrent terrorism is spreading throughout the world as a dreadful epidemic, whether through the extremist elements moving across borders from one state to another, taking some countries as safe haven until they resume their abominable terrorism, or receiving support and funding, hiding behind the veil of some suspicious associations.

Last but not least, by employing the media and social network, to recruit new elements and incite violence and hatred.

We, today, are in dire need to reaffirm our unity and cooperation against this danger and stand united against this epidemic, which cannot be justified under any name.

Terrorism is very different from peaceful political opposition, which we all accept as a healthy phenomenon and a fundamental pillar for any sound political life.

Egypt has put forward a comprehensive vision to eliminate the threat of terrorism and its negative effects on the enjoyment of human rights, and the right to life and other entrenched rights in particular, and through dialogue and cooperation, it was capable of linking this vision with the European position, which is based on the importance of respecting the human rights during the fight against terrorism; the matter which we do not disagree about, but rather practice on ground.

Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses,

These common challenges have also been embodied in the hotbeds of conflicts in the region, foremost among them is the Palestinian Cause, which is the central and primary Cause of the Arabs, and one of the main roots of these conflicts, as it continues to deprive the Palestinian people of their legitimate and human rights that the international society is neglecting.

This situation is also fueled by the absence of genuine political will towards a comprehensive and just settlement, despite the fact that the terms of reference of this settlement are well known and documented in the resolutions of the international legitimacy that are as old as the United Nations, and are confirmed and enhanced annually, no matter how long we shall wait for their implementation.

Here, I cannot but warn of the repercussions of the continuation of this conflict on all our countries.

I also have to point out that one of the ironies of this conflict is that the establishment of a comprehensive and just settlement without detracting  from the rights of the Palestinian people in accordance with the provisions of international legitimacy, shall represent a common benefit for all regional and international parties and will also deprive the forces of extremism and terrorism from the opportunity of diverting the attention of the younger generations, who have known nothing but occupation and war, from joining the march of progress and development.

Leaving conflicts in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and other areas where there is armed conflict without a political settlement, only represents a shortcoming that the current and future generations will hold us responsible for; such generations which receive through the modern media means the minute details of these humanitarian catastrophes, moment by moment.

Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses,

The above mentioned description has not been intended to give a bleak picture of the situation in the region, although it is already a bleak one at present, but it has been intended to speak frankly enough to face those challenges.

Therefore, while we acknowledge that there are no "magic solutions" to overcome these challenges, let's look at some outlines as a key to the solution:

Firstly: The modern history of our region has proved that the continuity and maintenance of the nation state entity, and its reform if it is necessary, is the key to stability and the first step towards regaining security to the peoples who have been fearful and anxious for the future and open the door to development efforts. Therefore, the cooperation between our countries should be strengthened in order to reinforce the institutions of the state to face the difficult challenges, while respecting the principle of citizenship to face calls of sectarianism and extremism.

The State is primarily responsible for controlling its borders, ensuring respect for the rule of law and safeguarding the lives and rights of its citizens. Thus, it is important to disregard any call, whatever its source or motive, that leads to the destruction of states and their institutions.

This simply contradicts all logics and the modern historical experience witnessed by the peoples of the region, with parallel emphasis on the right of the peoples to meet their legitimate aspirations of democracy and development, within the framework of the modern civil nation state.

Second: I wonder frankly with my brothers and friends, whether the time is ripe to agree on a comprehensive approach to combating terrorism.

This approach needs to adopt, as a basic component, a strict security confrontation with the terrorist organizations and an enlightened intellectual confrontation with their ideological sources, as an equally important component, as well as blocking their funding and incitement. 

In the context of this approach, and so as to ensure its success, I should highlight the importance of the full implementation of all its elements as it will not be successful if we do not join together to implement them or not stand firmly against any one refusing carrying them out under any pretext.

Thirdly: it is absolutely necessary to turn the Middle East region from an area of "conflicts" to an area of "successes". This requires genuine cooperation between our two regions which are mostly affected by these conflicts and will greatly benefit from these successes.

This requires overlooking narrow interests and working with the conflict parties, through motivation and sometimes calculated pressure, with a view to implementing UN resolutions, which is considered an agreed-upon binding approach to resolving these disputes.

Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses,

Just as there are many common challenges facing our region, there are, also, many opportunities that if we invest well, they will be the best support for us in the face of such challenges. Economic cooperation leads to prosperity on both sides of the Mediterranean.

This requires us to look at the economic relations between our two regions in an integrated not a competitive way, in order to invest the competitive advantages of both sides, particularly in the light of the abundant fields of economic cooperation, whether in the field of industry, agriculture, energy, transport, or others.

Contrary to some others, we consider migration not as a challenge, but as a promising field of cooperation, that bears many common fruits, whether for the Arab region that is characterized by abundance of manpower or the European region, whose economies require a variety of workforces.

Thus, cooperation between our two regions to ensure safe and orderly migration will achieve many common interests, while working in parallel, to combat human trafficking within the framework of our common efforts to combat the transnational organized crime, bearing in mind, also, the need to respect the principle of State sovereignty and stay away from the designed approaches to export the challenge to a particular region, as well as the need to keep in mind the root causes of this challenge.

I would like to point out that Egypt hosts millions of refugees, living among us and receiving government provided services in education and health like their Egyptian counterparts, despite the difficult economic conditions we have experienced in recent years.

Egypt has, also, succeeded in stopping any attempts of illegal migration across its shores since September 2016. It has entered into dual dialogues with a number of European countries to establish bilateral cooperation aiming to deal with this phenomenon not only in terms of its repercussions but also in terms of its causes.

In this respect, the year 2018 witnessed a qualitative development represented in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which has been adopted in December 2018 in Morocco after hard negotiations.

Your Majesties, Excellencies and Highnesses,

In conclusion, allow me to speak directly to the peoples of our two regions and to all peace-loving peoples: "Great peace-loving peoples, I send you a message of love and brotherhood through this summit, calling upon you not to pay attention to the advocates of division and hatred, or to those who try to demonize others by putting them in molds, or claiming perfection based on race, gender or religion.

Every one of us seeks a better world for him or her and for his or her generations to come. And there is no way to do so, except through cooperation, learning from and accepting others.

So, let us take off to wider vistas of common action, relying on the values of our human civilization and our certainty in the unity of the destiny of all human beings".

Thank You Very Much

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