Sochi Summit … a new advanced level of cooperation between Egypt & Russia
Tuesday، 22 October 2019 - 04:01 PM
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s visit to Russia opens new important horizons in the course of mutual relations between the two countries, and regional cooperation, whether on the issues of the Middle East or Russian cooperation with the African continent. The Russia-Africa summit, scheduled to be held in Russia’s Sochi city on October 23 and 24, will be co-chaired by President Sisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
This is the fifth visit of President Sisi to Russia since his first visit as Minister of Defense in 2014. This is also the 12th meeting between President Sisi and Vladimir Putin during this period. The last two meetings between the two presidents were during 2019. The first meeting was last April on the sidelines of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRFIC) in Beijing, China. During the meeting, the Russian president said that the relations between Russia and Egypt are developing strongly, describing Egypt as reliable partner for Russia, pointing out that the comprehensive partnership agreement and strategic cooperation signed during the visit of President Sisi to Russia in October 2018 allows the two sides to take bilateral relations to a new level.
While the second meeting was last June in Osaka, Japan, during the two leaders' participation in the G20 summit. During the meeting President Putin said “We seek to push relations between Russia and Egypt”, stressing that "Moscow seeks to push relations with Cairo to a new advanced level."
In addition to the bilateral relations, the main topic of President Sisi's visit to Russia is the Russian-African Summit. The summit, which brings together leaders of African countries and major African organizations, is expected to witness the signing of several agreements that contribute to achieving peace as Russia has strong and distinguished relations with African countries. The summit will discuss many international issues and ways of deepening Russian-African cooperation in various fields from politics to culture. Several bilateral and multilateral agreements are also to be signed. The summit also focuses on many important economic issues of common interest, including energy, infrastructure, mining, agriculture and information technology. Russia is also seeking to strengthen cooperation with Africa in the fight against terrorism and extremism, moreover, it seeks to find solutions to the problems of the African continent, fight poverty and disease and work on technological progress.
In terms of bilateral Egyptian-Russian relations, Russia is one of Egypt’s largest trading partners. Trade exchange between Egypt and Russia has achieved remarkable growth in 2018, reaching $ 7.66 billion, while Egypt’s exports to Russia increased by 4.1% in 2018 to reach $ 526.4 million compared to $ 505.6 million in 2017. This is due to the increase in Egyptian exports of agricultural crops as well as industrial commodities, especially pharmaceutical products and food and chemical industries. However, Egypt aspires to a greater increase in Egyptian exports to ease the large trade deficit between the two countries.
On the economic side, the Russian Industrial Zone project in the Suez Canal Economic Zone is Russia’s first off-shore project. The Russian capital in the infrastructure projects of the project amounted to $190 million, while the expected investment is about $ 7 billion. Until now, about 55 Russian companies have expressed their keen in investing in this project, which will create about 150,000 jobs.
In recent months, the two countries have agreed to finance and supply 1,300 railway wagons to develop the railway sector in Egypt and discuss joint manufacturing steps for these wagons, as well as ways of enhancing cooperation and coordination between Egypt and Russia in African markets.
On the bilateral level, the two countries signed on December 11, 2017, in Cairo an agreement to establish Egypt's nuclear power project in the Dabaa region. This project is the largest joint venture between Cairo and Moscow since the High Dam since establishing the High Dam project that has economic, financial and investment dimensions. It also helps in the transfer of advanced technology in this filed, which Egypt needs in the framework of an integrated energy strategy that will make Egypt a regional and global center for the production and circulation of energy with all its components and renewable and non-renewable sources.
On the regional level, the meeting between Presidents Sisi and Putin will focus on discussing regional issues, especially in the Gulf region, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Any consensus between the two countries will certainly be an effective element on the Middle East issues.
Egypt & Russia, Deeply - Rooted Relationships
SIS indicated in its report that the Egyptian-Russian relations were historic and flourishing in the 1950s and 1960s, but its roots extend much further.
On August 26, 1943, the diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Egypt began, where the first step of cooperation between the two sides took place in August, 1948. The first economic agreement was signed on swapping Egyptian cotton with grain and woods from the Soviet Union.
After July 23rd Revolution, the relationship witnessed significant developments, where the Soviet Union strongly supported Egypt in the face of tripartite aggression in 1956. Then the policies of the two countries converged globally in bolstering the liberation movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America to get rid of Western colonialism, as well as to boost third world groupings such as the Non-Aligned Movement and etc.
On the bilateral level, the Soviet Union was the largest supporter for Egypt in the world and provided it with weapons, military equipment and political support. This enabled Egyptians to fight the October 1973 War, where Egypt fought with a Russian weapon in the first place.
On the development level, the Soviet Union supported Egypt's development efforts in the 1950s-1960s, and helped Egypt in the construction of the High Dam after the West refused to fund the dam from international institutions, as well as Egypt's need for technical and engineering assistance in the construction process.
Soviet experts also helped Egypt in establishing large productive enterprises such as iron and steel plants, aluminum compound, converting power lines from Aswan to Alexandria, establishing the nucleus of peaceful nuclear reactors in Anshas and cooperating in automotive industry and Aswan power station field.
In Egypt, 97 industrial projects were completed with the contribution of the Soviet Union.
In the early 1990s, political relations developed at the level of the Presidents of the two countries, government and parliament. Presidential visits were exchanged, especially during President Putin era, where a joint Egyptian-Russian cooperation agreement and seven cooperation agreements were signed in 1997, and other important agreements during the following years.
The political relations between the two countries witnessed a positive development, especially with the strengthening of relations between President Sisi and President Putin, whose held 11 fruitful summits in Egypt and Russia and during other meetings in international fora.
In October 2018, the Presidents’ Summit in Russia signed a Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation Agreement between the two countries.
Russian- African summit
Sochi, a city on the black sea, will host the first Russia-Africa Summit on 23-24th of October co-chaired by president Abdel Fatah El Sisi, who heads the African Union, and Russian president Vladimir Putin, in the presence of number of African country’s leaders and major African organizations.
More than 40 African leaders will participate in the Economic Forum, more than 300 businessmen from Russia and Africa will participate also.
this summit will discuss topics, which were floated BRICS meeting in Johannesburg, such as strengthening Russia's role in Africa, discussing international financial system, expanding cooperation, exports, investment and security challenges, beside wide range issues on the international agenda.
SIS report said that Russian- African summit is the latest model of international cooperation in the form of 55 + 1, which was preceded by many international models, such as French- African summit, which has been held regularly since French President Georges Pompidou opened its first summit in Paris in November 1973.
Also there is the China-Africa Cooperation Forum (FOCAC) established in 2000, the African-Japanese Summit (TICAD), and the Indo-African Summit, which firstly held in New Delhi in 2008, the German-African Summit, the Turkish-African Summit “Tika”, the Iran-Africa Summit, and others.
Russia has begun to regain its economic and political presence in Africa, Since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 1999.
Africa ranked ninth among the 10 most important regions for Russian interests according to a 2008 foreign policy document signed by former President Dmitry Medvedev.
The Russian foreign policy document signed by President Putin in 2015-2016 also stated that Russia will expand its relations with African countries in various fields, both bilaterally and collectively.
Moscow sees Africa as a promising destination to strengthen its activity in the oil, gas and other natural resources, as Russian investments in Africa ranging from $ 8 billion to $ 10 billion, and the total Russian exports increased to Africa almost tripled from $ 5 billion to about $ 15 billion from 2010 to 2017.
The increased Russian military presence in Africa reflects the Russian commitment to participate in peacekeeping operations in the African continent.
The amount of the Russian soldiers participating in those operations exceeding the amount of their counterparts from France, Britain and the United States of America, as well as the Russian welcome to settle regional disputes and conflicts, thus enhancing area’s stability and security.
Russia forgave African countries $ 16 billion debt in 2008, canceled $ 20 billion in 2012, and reduced the debt burden of several Horn of Africa countries, as part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.
In the same time, Russia provided humanitarian assistance to the countries of the region, which became a positive development in derail of Russian relations with the countries of the region.
On culture, the Russian Cultural Centers for Science and Culture play a role in strengthening the Russian presence in the region; as Russia provides scholarships and training for African students at Russian universities.
In 2017, more than 1800 young African studied in Russia, and in general there are about 15,000 young African studying there permanently, 4,000 of them on scholarships funded by the Russian government.
Attending 7th international summit in Sochi.. A new record of Sisi’s international activity
No doubt that the Russia-Africa Summit co-chaired by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time, adds to Sisi a new record of his international activity for the African continent since he assumed the presidency of the African Union on 10th February, 2019.
Let’s remind you some of the most important international conferences attended by Mr. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi since undertaking African Union presidency as follows:
Mr. President addressed the main session of the Munich Conference Security held on 15th February 2019, with participation of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be the first non-European president addressing the main session since founding the Conference in 1963.
During the session, President Sisi outlined Egypt's vision to strengthen African action during the next phase, in light of the Egyptian presidency of the African Union for the current year 2019; by enhancing regional economic integration at the continent level, facilitating intra-regional trade, within the framework of the African Agenda 2063 for comprehensive and sustainable growth, as well as promoting Post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts.
Beijing Belt and Road Summit held on 24th April, 2019, where President Sisi spoke on behalf of Africa and called for boosting cooperation in the fields of infrastructure and economic growth.
* G 20 Osaka Summit!
G20 Osaka Summit held on 27th June, 2019, where the President called for strengthening international support efforts for growth in Africa.
* Sideline Summit!
On 28th June2019, he participated in an African mini coordination summit on the sidelines of the G20 Osaka Summit, which gathered the two Presidents of South Africa and Senegal.
* 45th G7 Summit!
The 45th G7 Summit hosted by the French city of Biarritz on 25 and 26 August, 2019. At the G7 Partnership Summit, President El Sisi said: “We all know the sever challenges facing developing countries, including African ones, as they strive to improve the lives of their people and achieve sustainable development, as well as obstacles standing before achieving those goals.”
President Sisi called for drawing a framework to utilize the African human and material resources and develop them as well in order to achieve self-reliant development and establish modern societies by supporting knowledge and innovation and alluring investments that reduce unemployment among African youth who join the labor market annually.
* TICAD 7!
The 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) held in Yokohama on 28th - 30th August, 2019.
In his speech, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said the growth locomotive in Africa has been remarkably launching in the last two decades since the establishment of the African Union (AU), adding that the adoption of the African Agenda "2063" and founding of the African continental free trade area are the cornerstone of the African endeavors to achieve the desired economic regional integration.
Mr. president stressed that the AU has succeeded in setting a number of goals that have been included in the growth Agenda 2063, and determining the priority of development projects in Africa, which will contribute to achieving the sustainable growth in Africa by focusing on the aspirations of the continent’s peoples for prosperity.
On 24th of Sep. 2019 in which the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi assured Egypt is committed to provide the African continent with the health care which topped Egypt’s priorities during its presidency of the African Union. Egypt is seeking for implementing the plan of "One hundred million health" over all African countries in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).
During his meeting with the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held on 22nd September, 2019, President El-Sisi highlighted ways of enhancing development cooperation between Egypt and African countries.
Meanwhile, El-Sisi received the President of the World Bank Group "David Malpas" on 25th september,2019, and discussed means of enhancing cooperation between Egypt and the World Bank Group towards achieving development in Africa, according to the framework of African Union headed by Egypt aiming to support development financing policies for achieving comprehensive growth in the continent.