Improved EU-Egypt relations must include progress on human rights

Speaking at a high-level progressive conference on the eve of the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution (Cairo, 19/01/2013), Hannes Swoboda, president of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, underlined the need to improve the EU’s relations with Egypt and to improve democracy to the country.

„The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament are ready to support Egypt politically and economically, but Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi must create a climate of confidence and trust both inside and outside the country.“

Speaking of the Party of European Socialists partners in Egypt, President Stanishev said: „Democracy in Egypt is going through its birth. Assembly elections are coming soon, and it is vital that the law under which they are conducted is fair. The electoral law has to be a midwife that delivers a healthy democracy.

„The National Salvation Front is crucial in this process. The platform created together with Mohammed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabahi and Mohamed Abulghar is the right answer to the arrogance of the Freedom and Justice Party.“

Hannes Swoboda added: „Inspiring a revolution is one thing, but creating a functioning, democratic state is another. As such, the S&D Group invites Morsi to accept the need for inclusive political dialogue in all areas and with all democratic forces in Egypt. This is essential if the democratic advances of the revolution are to be consolidated, and if the country is to become an effective state, both politically, economically and in terms of its human rights record. This can only be achieved if an inclusive dialogue between all political forces becomes a reality. “

„The S&Ds believe an EU trade agreement with Egypt is vital for the country’s economy. Egypt’s products should have greater and easier access to European markets so we will push for talks in this direction. The EU should help Egypt financially and the S&D Group supports greater commercial opportunities for the country. However, full respect for fundamental human rights, especially media freedom and women’s rights, is a pre-condition for improved EU-Egypt relations.

„From a financial perspective, we believe that European banks must return any funds confiscated from Mubarak’s account to the Egyptian authorities as this capital belongs to the Egyptian people.

„The European Union should extend the Erasmus programme to Egyptian students to give the opportunity for the younger generation to study at European universities.“

President Stanishev concluded: „The conference also created the ‚Arab Social Democratic Forum‘, to act as a regional structure for social democratic parties. “