Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry delivering a speech at the sixth Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfC) held in Barcelona, Spain on November 29, 2021.
CAIRO – 30 November 2021: Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry participated Monday in the sixth Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfC) and the third European Union-Southern Neighborhood Ministerial Meeting, which were both held in Barcelona.
In his speech in the former, Minister Shokry highlighted that participants in the last forum agreed to prioritize five areas of cooperation that are climate change and environment; sustainable social and economic development; creating jobs for youth, particularly in the blue economy; social integration and equality; and, digital transformation and civil protection.
The minister noted that in spite of COVID-19 pandemic, the UfM has been able to carry on with related activities. A case in point is Egypt hosting the second ministerial meeting on environment, whose outcome was Cairo Declaration communicated to COP26 in Glasgow. The declaration asserted the necessity of backing developing countries in the realm of green transformation by making available required funding.
In another context, the Egyptian foreign minister reiterated the salience of prioritizing channeling investments to southern Mediterranean countries creating jobs, and benefiting from their natural and human resources.
Equally, Shokry underlined that the UfM's goals will not be achieved optimally unless peace and stability are established in the region.
"In that context, the current forum coincides with the 30th anniversary of Madrid Conference for Peace. I remember how the ambitions and hopes were big in Madrid 30 years ago to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and achieve permanent, fair, and comprehensive peace in the region. We have to restore that spirit and call upon all concerned parties to work seriously to reach a solution to the Palestinian Cause, which is still at the core of the causes of our region's instability. That is why negotiations have to resume fast in order to accomplish a final settlement rooted in the two-state solution, international references, and principles of international law. Thereby, establishing a sovereign Palestinian state on the borders of June 4, 1967 having Eastern Jerusalem as capital, would be guaranteed," Minister Shokry stressed. He added that such pathway would also ensure bringing to a halt the unilateral measures and policies, including illegitimate settling activities.
The minister added that "achieving stability and development in the Mediterranean region mandates reinforcing intellectual and cultural communication among its peoples" in order to counter violence, extremism, discrimination, and hatred of the Other. On that front, Minister Shokry lauded the work of Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue Between Cultures based in Alexandria.
As for his participation in the third European Union-Southern Neighborhood Ministerial Meeting, Minister Shokry detailed in his speech the fields of priority in terms of cooperation – in the form of exchange of experience and capacity-building - between the EU and neighboring states in the South.
The minister elaborated that those fields are agriculture, irrigation, health, energy, pharmaceuticals, management of solid waste, technical education, and vocational training. That is in addition to new sectors such as green transformation, renewable energy, digitalization, e-commerce, and artificial intelligence applications.
"Egypt has been eager since the beginning of 2000s to hold a real partnership relation with the European Union based on mutual respect and extended cooperation in various fields. As our country has been embarking on a new stage of economic development with an ambitious vision of the future, we call upon the European Union to take advantage of the big opportunities available by taking part in the mega development projects in Egypt. That is by employing new and audacious tools to encourage the flow of investments, such as issuing investment guarantees, facilitating the entry of exports to European markets, and taking solid measures to adjust the trade balance, which is favorable to the European Union," Minister Shokry pointed out.
The minister also underscored the necessity of combating discrimination, hatred of the Other, extremism, terrorism, and illegal migration as those are joint challenges facing both shores of the Mediterranean. He highlighted that those phenomena have "known economic, social, and intellectual roots," which requires comprehensive and wise approaches to deal with them northern and southern the Mediterranean.
The Egyptian foreign minister asserted that the aspired partnership among Mediterranean countries necessitate regional stability, which would be achieved by resolving political crises that have extended over decades, like the Palestinian Cause, and others that arose over the past decade giving rise to extremism, terrorism, and illegal migration.