News Column

Egypt Says it Has New Foreign Approach

July 31, 2013

The "ideological" approach of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi is no longer dictating Egypt's foreign policy, newly appointed Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said.

"The foreign policy of the former president was based on an ideological belief," Fahmy said in an interview with dpa.

"Our foreign policy will focus on being a centrist, large Middle Eastern state as part of the international community, pursuing rational policies based on realpolitik but consistent with the principles of the revolution."

Fahmy cited Syria's 28-month conflict and Egypt's concerns over an Ethiopian project to build a major dam on the Nile as cases where the country's approach was changing.

"We would openly continue to support the Syrian revolution and the freedom of the Syrian people ... but we would not encourage jihad in Syria by Egyptians," Fahmy explained.

On the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project, Fahmy said Egypt was "looking for and will pursue solutions that respond to Ethiopia's development interests ... so it's a principled and practical foreign policy, not one in which we are talking about attacking or spilling blood in dealing with this issue."

Ethiopia's plan to build a 4.3 billion dollar dam on the Blue Nile, aimed at generating badly needed electricity, has caused alarm in Egypt, which heavily depends on the Nile to meet the water needs of its 85 million population.

Morsi came under criticism when a crisis meeting he called with political leaders in June on the issue saw some of them speculate about military action against Ethiopia, apparently unaware that the session was being broadcast live on television.

On the potential for Europe to play a role mediating between the new Egyptian authorities and Morsi's supporters, Fahmy said that he did not expect the European Union to engage in any formal mediation attempt.

"If anyone has better powers of persuasion to convince the Muslim Brotherhood to stop inciting violence, to help take measures that would end the siege situation in (Brotherhood Cairo protest sites) Rabaa and Nahda among other places, that would be helpful," he said.

The army deposed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, on July 3 after massive street protests against his rule.

His Muslim Brotherhood group has condemned Morsi's toppling as a coup and vowed to continue protesting until he is restored to office.

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Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH