French Senate’s President Visits Egypt for Enhancing Bilateral Relations

Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry has met the French Senate President Gérard Larcher in Cairo to discuss a number of regional and domestic issues, according to al-Ahram, a state-owned newspaper.

The foreign minister also discussed Egypt’s views on recent events in the Middle East, including the ongoing crises in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, as well as the Palestinian cause.

During the meeting, Shoukry updated Larcher on the current situation in Egypt, touching on recent economic reforms taken by the country, including the floating of the Egyptian pound.

Both parties also discussed crucial issues related to combating illegal immigration and terrorism.

On his part, Larcher stressed that France would always be a partner to Egypt, both politically and economically.

The French senate president, who arrived in the capital with a five-member delegation for a three-day visit, also met Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

In his meeting with Larcher, al-Sisi called for continued efforts to boost Egyptian-French ties and cooperation between the countries’ parliaments, according to al-Ahram.

Al-Sisi discussed recent economic and political developments in Egypt, as well as government efforts to draw foreign investment, adding that there are many prospects available to French investors in Egypt.

“They also discussed ways to bolster international efforts to combat terrorism and extremism as well as a number of regional issues including attempts to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the crises in war-torn Libya and Syria, “said the state-owned newspaper.

Last September, France Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Cairo and met Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. During the visit, the French minister said that France

appreciates Egypt’s pivotal role as a main pillar for security and stability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to al-Ahram.

Le Drain said that Egypt is one of France strategic partners in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, stressing that his country supports Egypt’s pivotal role as the main source of security and stability in the region.

France Minister of Defense also praised the military cooperation between both countries on the War on Terrorism in the last two years, according to al-Youm7, a pro-regime Egyptian newspaper.

The meeting was also attended by Egypt’s Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy, which witnessed a discussion on the latest developments in the region including the Syrian and Libyan civil conflicts, said Egyptian presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef.

France has been among the first countries to support al-Sisi who led a military coup in 2013 against Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi.

France views al-Sisi regime as co-partner in two major files Libya and illegal migration.

In addition, both al-Sisi and France support Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the head of a militia known as the Libyan National Army (LNA).

In the same context, France and other European countries believe that Egypt can assist in monitoring the illegal migration that constitutes a real threat to Europe as it allows smuggling ISIS elements through the borders to launch terrorists’ attacks on European borders.

As a result, France sold Egypt two Mistral aircraft carriers from France with at a value of 950 million euros-the contract was finalized in September 2015.

Egypt, received warship in June which was delivered to Alexandria from the French city of Toulouse.

In September 2016, Egypt received the second Mistral-class warship.

In this context, Amnesty International released a report that condemn EU countries that violate the EU suspension on arms transfers to Egypt, saying that almost half of European Union (EU) member states have violated the sanctions.

The report reads,” After hundreds of protesters were killed in a show of grossly excessive force by security forces in August 2013, 12 out of 28 EU member states have remained among Egypt’s main suppliers of arms and policing equipment. It is feared that EU Foreign Ministers could soon decide to scrap the current, already insufficient, suspension.”

According to Amnesty’s report, EU states authorized 290 licenses for military equipment to Egypt, totaling more than €6 billion (US$6.77) in 2014 alone. The items have included: small arms, light weapons and ammunition; armored vehicles; military helicopters; heavier weapons for use in counter-terrorism and military operations; and surveillance technology.

The EU countries who have been supplying arms to Egypt through exports or brokering since 2013 are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK.