President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in a press conference at Ittihadiya Castle in Cairo, Egypt. January 28, 2019. TV Screenshot
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Monday at Ittihadiya Castle as part of the latter’s three-day state visit as they discussed bilateral relations, Syria, Libya, the Palestinian cause, and Africa.
President Sisi stated that he discussed with his French counterpart coordination on regional and international affairs as well as economic and cultural matters explaining that the strategic partnership would help remedy deficiencies in the Egyptian economy.
“French companies are welcome to participate in mega projects and benefit from opportunities in Egypt,” President Sisi said. He also highlighted that 2019 is the year of French-Egyptian culture in the country.
“Egyptian intellects have been influenced by the French Renaissance writers, and the French helped to decipher our civilization,” the president added.
Macron stated that the priority in bilateral ties is counter-terrorism and security. “Both countries faced Islamist terrorism...Egypt’s stability and security are crucial for our national strategy and the region...We will cooperate in that realm,” he added.
Macron announced launching a joint electric cars project, and cooperation on infrastructure, railways, roads, healthcare, culture, upbringing, and academic cadres training promising to be more committed to teaching the French language in Egypt.
Macron also highlighted the need to increase the French presence in the egyptology sector, museum exchange programs, and joint work on Islamic artifacts.
The French President stated that both countries are looking forward to Africa. As Egypt will chair the African Union (AU) in 2019 starting February, both leaders discussed possible French initiatives to push development efforts in the continent. They also reviewed Egyptian endeavors to preserve nation states in the region and resolve crises.
The French President stated that he used to discuss regional matters with his Egyptian counterpart in phone calls, and that in Monday’s meeting they exchanged views on bilateral and regional matters.
Both leaders agreed to achieve two main goals in Libya. One is to support counterterrorism, and entities involved in the process. The other is to accomplish national reconciliation. Macron stressed the importance to cooperate with Ghassan Salame, special representative of the secretary general to libya and head of UNSMIL pursuant to human rights council resolution 37/45.
Macron stated that France and Egypt have close views on Syria to reach an integrated political solution and not just defeat terrorism. He highlighted the role of the Small Group on Syria encompassing seven countries including Egypt and France as well as Germany, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
The French President affirmed the necessity to make progress on drafting the constitution and rebuilding the state institutions in Syria. “The Syrian regime has not shown it wants to resolve the issue so normalization of relations cannot happen at the moment,” Macron said.
The French President described the halt in peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis as a bomb countdown saying that possible solutions for resuming the peace process will be crystallized by Egypt and France over the next few months. In the same context, Macron praised Egypt’s commitment to the Palestinian reconciliation.
In the end, the French President expressed appreciation for Egypt’s military role in the region and demographic composition.