Summary: 22 February 2011, Cairo - Remarks by Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, following the first part of her visit to Egypt
After the meeting with the Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit:
We have discussed this morning two different aspects of the future: first the progress of Egypt towards democracy, and secondly the economic requirements for Egypt. Let me be absolutely clear: it is for Egypt to determine its future, it is for Egypt to examine with all its expertise the economic issues that it faces, and it is for the European Union and the international community to offer support if it is needed and if it is useful, but it will be Egypt that decides that that is the case. And what I wanted to reassure the minister of is that, in talking with the European Union and indeed talking beyond the European Union, it is in order to be ready to be able to respond should any request come that I am focusing my work, in other words to make sure that we have available the resources or the expertise or whatever is needed that could support the people of Egypt if that could be of use. But more than anything it was to come and make sure that the people of Egypt know that all 27 countries of the European Union wish to offer our good wishes and our strong support to you for the future.
From the economic side, let me give you two brief examples of our discussions. First of all, the importance of continuing and always developing foreign direct investment and the potential for the international community. For the EU and others to be able to support that process it will be again for ministers to suggest ways in which we can do that, but I am certainly looking at ways in which we might be able to offer support. And then secondly, the role of the European Investment Bank, which I think has put €488 million most recently in support of small businesses, infrastructure and other projects, but we've arranged to increase their capacity so they can offer more to Egypt if Egypt wants that, and those are ways in which we can be very practical in the support that we can give.
After the meeting with Secretary General of Arab League Amre Moussa:
First of all it's always a great privilege to meet with Secretary General Amre Moussa, who is a great colleague and a good friend. We discussed the issues for this country and my desire on behalf of the 27 Member States of the European Union and the European Union institutions to offer support for the people of Egypt for their future journey. I hope that the context is understood that this is the European Union wishing to support what is for Egypt to lead. We also of course touched on the broader questions of what is happening in the region and, as we both share a strong desire and interest to see the Middle East Peace Process move forward, I was pleased to tell the Secretary General of my visit recently to Ramallah and to Jerusalem to meet with President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu – but as I've said most importantly to have the opportunity to be here to catch up and to express the support of the European Union to the people of Egypt.
We are extremely concerned about what is happening in Libya. 27 Foreign Ministers yesterday issued a statement expressing great concern and called for the violence to stop immediately, we called for the dialogue to begin, we have great concern to ensure that people are safe. I know that Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the UN, has been in a long conversation with President Gaddafi yesterday, and the international community is working together on this. And today in New York there are discussions to take place in the United Nations Security Council.