Egyptians are our partners and friends, says President
Egypt – Press conference given by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at the opening of the new Suez Canal (excerpts)
Cairo, 6 August 2015
THE PRESIDENT – (…) Today, relations between France and Egypt are based on shared interests: the fight against terrorism, and security. This doesn’t prevent there being a frankness in relations. We’ve always said this, vis-à-vis the election processes we’re keen to see happen soon.
There’s this cooperation which the French Defence Minister, the French Prime Minister, the Egyptian authorities and I instigated in order for us to give Egypt the means to act and also France the means to be protected. This is the purpose of the delivery of the first Rafales – since the first Rafale sales contract was concluded here with this country, Egypt. You saw how much praise there was for these aircraft. This cooperation is going to continue and be strengthened. A frigate has already been delivered; there will be others, because we want to ensure that Egypt can defend itself against terrorism.
Economic relations are also solid, and the Suez Canal’s new configuration is going to allow French businesses to come and set up.
I’m also concerned about the situation in the region. Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen. Nor am I forgetting the terrorist acts which can happen right here in Egypt, and particularly in Sinai. So given this threat, we have to find partners and ensure that they have the means to defend themselves, fight terrorism and also help identify with us solutions for peace in the region.
This is the purpose of my being here and of the meetings I’ve had with the Egyptian President and the heads of state and government who were present at this ceremony. (…)
Election process/fight against terrorism
Q. – You were guest of honour today, on the front row, as we saw. Do you think the Egyptian regime is compatible with the values of democracy France advocates? If not, has President al-Sisi given you reassurances today about possible progress over the short or medium term?
THE PRESIDENT – As you know, France always makes sure that the principles and values we promote can be discussed with all our partners. Egypt entered a process, following a serious crisis, following many deaths and in a context of non-stop terrorism. This process must run its course, i.e. with a transparent, free general election, and this is scheduled – and this was confirmed to me – for the end of the year. At the same time as setting out these principles, I’ve also got to consider the fact that Egypt is a partner: an essential partner in the fight against terrorism, which itself is facing up to terrorism, terrorism at home – as we’ve seen again in the past few days –, and also the situation its neighbours are in, which has particularly deteriorated, especially in Libya. In this context, Egypt is a partner and our relationship is going to remain high-level in terms of cooperation we’ve got to have on security. (…)
Q. – Were you able to talk about human rights?
THE PRESIDENT – Yes. We talked about our relationship overall and, as I’ve told you, we don’t rule out any subject, and I also got the answer I was waiting for on the election process, and on the course of justice in Egypt. (…) I want to tell our French compatriots that the Egyptians are our partners and friends. (…)
I know what this country is enduring, especially with the security risks, which mean that tourism, which was a vehicle for development in a large part of Egypt, is affected today. So we’ve got to support Egypt, because it’s a friend, because its people are friends and have very long-standing relations with France. The symbolic place I’m at, which is behind me, the Suez Canal, is, I think, the finest symbol of this. On that basis, we’re going to continue having this relationship built on frankness and, at the same time, cooperation and interest for our two countries and also for peace in the region. (…)./.