French Ambassador to Cairo, Stéphane Romatet, with Egypt Today’s reporter Engy Magdy, Wednesday December 6, 2017 – Egypt Today/Engy Magdy
CAIRO – 9 December 2017: French Ambassador to Cairo Stéphane Romatet stated that “the Al-Rawdah mosque attack emphasized that terrorism clearly targets Egypt,” during an interview with Egypt Today on December 6.
“Egypt is the first step in battling terrorism, and we in France are clear that we will do everything we can to aid Egypt in this war against terrorism. France’s security begins with Egypt’s security,” the French ambassador stated.
Romatet explained that due to being targeted by terrorism, Egypt may suffer a drop in investments. “Egypt today is attractive because it represents a large market and that is why it is an attractive investment hub,” he elaborated.
“More and more French companies are interested in investing in Egypt even though the world thinks its falling into a dark pit,” Romatet stressed.
Below is the full transcript of the interview.
There is another worrisome front for Europe and that is Libya. What measures are you taking in this matter, especially since the Skhirat Accords are due to end this month and will create a political and constitutional vacuum?
Two years ago, a framework was adopted by the UN and by the conflicting parties in the east and west of Libya, and therefore the Skhirat Accords, which are to expire on December 17, were made. The agreement should be immediately extended, and this was our focus during the weeks of work with Ghassan Salame, UN’s special representative in Libya, and with all the parties involved in the Libyan situation including Egypt which acts as a major player in Libyan stability.
In this respect I would like to affirm that France and Egypt share the same objectives in regards to the fight against terrorism in Libya and preserving the unity of the Libyan state. We are seeking the formation of a new constitution and a stabilized government, therefore both countries are working closely and hand in hand on the political and intelligence levels to ensure the realization of the said objectives.
In the aftermath of the Rawdah Mosque attack, how can France support Egypt in its fight against terrorism?
Egypt has paid a very costly toll in its fight with terrorism, and the Rawdah attack shows how much Egypt is targeted by terrorists. All countries share this objective of assisting Egypt in this war till it emerges victorious. For us, Egypt is the first line of defense against terrorism, and it is clear to us in France that we should and would do all that is necessary and available to support Egypt in this war because Egypt’s security and that of France are closely intertwined. Our security begins in Egypt, and that’s why we cannot spare any efforts on this matter, and will offer Egypt all it needs to win this war which Egypt cannot but win.
What is the sort of collaboration made between Cairo and Paris in this respect?
There is a vast and extensive collaboration that covers many aspects such as intelligence and coordination. Our objective is to ensure that Egypt becomes a secure and peaceful country, and therefore France is assisting Egypt in achieving such an objective, for, as I have already said, our security in France starts here in Egypt.
Many French firms operate in Egypt. Do you think that the attacks have any impact on the business of those firms?
This is one of the factors related to the anti-terrorist fight in Egypt because terror and the lack of security can definitely have a negative impact on the atmosphere of investment. Luckily, though, that at this point terrorist groups have been contained within a particular area where no French investments are existent, and this is exactly why we must help the Egyptian government, to ensure that terrorism is contained and eradicated which will, in turn, affect business positively.
Today, Egypt is a big and attractive market which, additionally, has launched a platform for attracting investors, the thing that makes more and more French companies interested in the Egyptian market despite the global view that Egypt lies in the heart of a very disturbed region.
Six months have passed since the Qatari crisis, and there are some international reports which link Doha to terrorism-funding. Is France investigating the matter?
We have strong and close ties with all the countries in the region, with the United Arab Emirates, with Saudi Arabia, with Egypt who is a major partner to France of course, and also with Qatar with whom we have kept our ties intact because France has the ability to converse with everyone in the region, and no one should ask France to choose between one country and another.
We keep good relations with all countries in the region because this is our duty. On the other hand, though, all countries should undoubtedly be committed to the war against terrorism and should keep a clean record in regards to the funding of terrorist groups and to hate speeches in their media apparatuses. I say it again, fighting terrorism necessitates global moves.