On Bastille Day: How deep are Egyptian-French relations?



Sat, 15 Jul 2017 - 11:10 GMT


Sat, 15 Jul 2017 - 11:10 GMT

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (L) – French President Emmanuel Macron (R) – Wikimedia commons

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (L) – French President Emmanuel Macron (R) – Wikimedia commons

CAIRO – 16 July 2017: It is always said among the international community that Egypt shares strong historical relations with France, spanning the middle ages to the present. The two nations now seem to have extremely close ties, more than any other time.

On Friday, French Ambassador to Egypt Stephane Roumtier held a ceremony at the French Embassy to celebrate France’s national day, known as Bastille Day.

During the ceremony, Roumtier announced that President Emmanuel Macron will visit Egypt within the coming months for the first time since he came to power in May 2017.

The ambassador stressed that France supports Egypt in its counterterrorism efforts, as well as reform measures taken by the government in a bid to revive the country's ailing economy.

Historical Relations

France’s relations with Egypt go back to Napoleon's expedition to Egypt, which took place from 1798–1801. The French greatly affected and influenced Egyptian life.

Khedive of Egypt Mohamed Ali took the relations further under his reign, as many Egyptian missions were sent to France to specialize in modern sciences and fine arts, contributing to Egypt’s modernization and development.

Recently, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited France 41 times over 30 years, and the two governments maintained very effective cooperation in different fields.

In the 25 January 2011 Revolution, France supported the transition. It also recognized the June 30 uprising that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood and brought President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to power.

Economic and Military Cooperation

France has close trade and military relations with Egypt. French companies have 160 subsidiaries in Egypt employing more than 30,000 people, operating in key sectors of the Egyptian economy, such as electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, distribution, hydrocarbon exploitation, tourism and infrastructure.

The volume of trade exchange reached €2 billion ($2.29 billion) in 2015/2016, of which €1.5 billion were Egyptian imports and €0.5 billion were exports. The volume of French investments in Egypt amounted to €3.6 billion in 2015/2016.

In the transport sector, the Cairo Metro shows significant participation by French companies, with investments estimated at more than €2 billion since 1980. French companies were recently awarded the contract for the fourth phase of Line 3, with civil engineering for the same phase worth €1.12 billion.

In the military field, several major export contracts have been concluded, including the sale of four Corvette ships by DCNS (May 2014), 24 Rafale fighter aircraft by Dassault Aviation, a multi-mission frigate by DCNS and weapon systems by MBDA (February 2015).

In October 2015, France agreed to sell two Mistral helicopter carriers to Egypt for €950 million, after their sale to Russia had been canceled in August 2015.

Cultural Ties

The France Institute leads cultural cooperation with Egypt through three centers in Cairo, Alexandria and Heliopolis.

There is also the French Research Institute for Development (IRD) in Cairo. It manages scientific programs on the relationship between man and the environment in the Asia-Pacific region, the Mediterranean region, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

IRD is under the joint authority of French authorities responsible for international development assistance on one hand and research on the other. IRD’s three main functional areas are research, advisory services and capacity building.

France has other organizations in Egypt in the field of archaeology, including the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO), the French-Egyptian Center for the Study of the Temples of Karnak (CFEETK) and the Centre d’Etudes Alexandrines (CEAlex), as well as several archaeological missions.

Cross-Border Threats

France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when 130 people were slaughtered in a wave of coordinated violence across Paris. The French anti-terrorism campaign coincided with Egypt's intensive fight against terror groups since the ousting of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

The bloody attacks forced France to strengthen its foreign policy in the Middle East, with priority given to besieging networks of foreign militants in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Egypt has a particularly key role for France regarding Libya. The French administration believes that Egypt is the number one key to resolving the Libyan crisis, as well as an important player in Syria too.



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