Berlin - 22 April 2019: Egyptian Ambassador in Germany Dr. Badr Abdelatty praised a high and diverse turnout at the constitutional referendum in Germany. “It definitely exceeded all expectations... I was very happy with the great influx of Egyptian voters,” he told Egypt Today on Sunday.
“They came from everywhere; north, south, east, west,” Dr. Abdelatty stated, stressing the significance of the diverse participation. “Many youths participated, especially on the second day; this reflects a desire to play a role in the future of the political, economic and social life in Egypt and to enjoy their constitutional right. There was a big presence of female voters and elderly voters were also keen to take part,” Dr. Abdelatty said.
The Egyptian community in Germany was able to cast their votes at three ballot points in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt. Nevertheless, some still had to travel 600 or 700 kilometers to reach the stations, the Egyptian ambassador said, adding “people made a lot of effort and were keen to come because they are convinced that the country is going through a modernization phase and that they have to have a role in that by casting their votes. They have also become convinced that their votes make a difference, whether they say yes or no.”
Egyptian students in Germany, a delegation from the Orthodox Church, families with their children, women, persons with disabilities and elderly citizens cast their ballots, the Egyptian ambassador said, adding that the embassy provided all facilitations for a convenient process. “I am very happy with the level of participation and the diversity,” Dr. Abdelatty said.
PRESS - Egyptian Ambassador to Berlin Dr. Badr Abdelatty and Egyptian expatriates after casting their ballots at the Egyptian Embassy in Berlin on 19 April 2019.
The Egyptian ambassador further affirmed that the embassy was encouraging all citizens to practice their constitutional right, without any intervention in their votes. “This is up to their individual consciousness and choices. We have encouraged them to participate because this reflects a sense of belonging to the nation; secondly it reflects a positive and effective participation; thirdly it reflects a role in defining the future of their country and pertaining the modernization and stability process in the country,” he stated.
“The most successful way is social media. We have a database of Egyptian citizens in Berlin. We posted on Facebook and communicated with them through email. We also have groups on Facebook [and] we communicate through them,” Dr. Abdelatty explained. “Once the national electoral authority declared the [dates] of the referendum, we informed the Egyptian community... Egyptians were keen to come and participate,” he said, further praising the role played by the symbols of the Egyptian community in Germany. “Any Egyptian was welcomed here, whether coming with family or children,” Dr. Abdelatti said, adding that the embassy also provided waiting areas for convenience.
Thanks to the facilitations made by the national electoral authority, even Egyptians on a short visit to Germany or those with an expired national ID were able to cast their vote.
“We followed the directions of the national electoral authority… The fact that the authority allowed even those with expired IDs to vote was very positive and facilitated the process for many citizens,” Dr. Abdelatty stated.
In preparation for the referendum, the embassy first communicated with the German competent security authorities to secure the electoral process in Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg so that there were no disruptions, the Egyptian ambassador said. “The most important thing for the citizen is to arrive safely without disruption from any person affiliated with the terrorist organization,” he explained.
“Many people, who were here on temporary visits in Germany during the referendum contacted us for logistical information and showed interest to come,” Dr. Abdelatty said.
Egyptian-German relations: a golden phase
“With all objectivity, I can say that Egyptian-German relations are based on a real partnership; and this is a realistic statement without any exaggeration,” Dr. Abdelatty told Egypt Today. “The consecutive visits of H.E President El Sisi to Germany was the cornerstone for developing a new phase in the bilateral relations. President Sisi visited Germany four times; in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. There is no doubt that these visits and the president’s meetings with German Chancellor Merkel created a kind of big and mutual trust between the leaderships of the two countries,” the Egyptian ambassador said, stressing the charisma of the Egyptian president in bilateral meetings and his honesty, “which is something that the German side cares about a lot.”
Referring to the importance of the issue of illegal immigration for Germany, Dr. Abdelatty affirmed that “the stability of Egypt and preventing any boats carrying illegal immigrants from exiting the Egyptian ports since September 2016 has been a big accomplishment,” further stressing Egypt’s role in trying to contain, control and achieve political settlements in the regional crises in Libya, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and others.
“The relations are going through a golden and very progressive and advanced phase in all fields. It is not only limited to political coordination or a relation of trust between the leaderships of the two countries but it also extends to include all economic, trade, social, education and cultural sectors and vocational training,” Dr. Abdelatti said.
Firstly in the political field, the ambassador highlighted the frequent meetings between the Egyptian president and the German chancellor, as well as the foreign minister’s visits to Germany, and joint consultations between the two countries with regards to immigration, combating terrorism and regional issues, especially the peace process and Libya and Yemen. “All of this reflects the [depth] of the political relations between the two countries,” Dr. Abdelatty said.
FILE - German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al Sisi shake hands following a news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 3, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
As for the economic relations, Egypt is Germany’s third partner in the Middle East, after the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian ambassador stated.
“In light of the economic reform in Egypt, especially after the start of the reform program with the IMF and the flotation of the exchange rate, it [Egypt] became a safe and attractive destiny for German investments,” Dr. Abdelatty said, stressing “a leap in German investments in Egypt.”
The Egyptian ambassador also pointed out an important mechanism to issue investment guarantees that has been endorsed by Germany, following bilateral communications, “to stimulate and encourage small and medium enterprises in Germany to invest in Egypt.”
“These companies represent 80 percent of the economic activities in Germany. But they are afraid because they are owned by families. Everyone is convinced that Egypt is stable, but they are afraid of the instability in the region... Hence, a mechanism has been created by which the German government offers guarantees to these companies to invest in Egypt. This is very good because the company owners will not be afraid of losing their money. In case of any losses, they are compensated by the government,” Dr. Abdelatty said.
And concerning commercial relations, the ambassador referred to “a leap forward in 2018, with a 30 percent increase in nontraditional Egyptian exports to Germany (other than petrochemicals), including fruits and vegetables and textile industries.”
Moreover, “2018 witnessed unprecedented tourism rates in the history of Egyptian-German relations,” Dr. Abdelatty said. “The highest tourism rates were in 2010 before the revolution at 1.3 million. In 2018, we by far exceeded this number and we have high confidence that in 2019 we will achieve a more ambitious number,” he explained.
The education sector is also one of the most important cooperation areas between Egypt and Germany, according to the Egyptian ambassador. “Four cooperation agreements were signed during the president’s visit to Germany in October 2018. We have started implementing these agreements,” Dr. Abdelatty said, referring to the recent establishment of an institution to measure quality control of the education process, an academy to train teachers, full cooperation in the field of vocational education and the establishment of a new university in the New Administrative Capital (The German International University for Applied Sciences GIU), in cooperation with Germany, which is set to open in June 2020.
“There are also the postgraduate scholarships for Master’s and PhD students. We are [launching] new specializations like artificial intelligence, space sciences and digitalization,” Dr. Abdelatty said.
Germany is also financing the refurbishing of Minia Akhnatun museum in Mallawi in Minia.
“Briefly, the relations are developing and flourishing in all fields, which serve the interests of Egypt, especially with regards to the transfer of technology. Germany has very advanced technology and it is keen to transfer this technology to Egypt,” the Egyptian ambassador concluded, listing cooperation in the automotive industry and electro mobility, agreements with Mercedes Benz, cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence, and waste management and recycling.
In a nutshell, Egypt and Germany have strategic relations on all levels and in all fields, based on mutual respect, transparency, friendship and a win –win relation... it is based on true partnership, the Egyptian ambassador stated.
PRESS - President Sisi (R) meets with the German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (L) on October, 31, 2018