Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry - File photo Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry - File photo

EXCLUSIVE: Egypt's FM to Qatar: UNESCO is not for sale unlike FIFA

Sat, Oct. 7, 2017
PARIS - 7 October 2017: Two days before choosing the new director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), information circulated over an alleged politicization in the international body in favor of Qatar's candidate.

Egypt Today conducted an exclusive interview with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to see how Egypt can secure its candidate, Moshira Khattab, who is heavily backed by African countries.


What does Egypt do to secure Khattab's stance?

Egypt exerted a lot of effort regarding Khattab's nomination to the post of director-general of the UNESCO and intensified its efforts to secure the vote of member states of the executive board in her favor. However, Egypt is vigilant that certain countries might pay large lump sums of money to shift the votes in favor of their own candidate.


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Moushira Khattab and Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry - Egypt Today -/ File photo Hussein Tallal


How do you see the Qatar's candidate?

I imagine he is a candidate that lacks the cultural background, and I imagine that if there is a genuine desire for Arab solidarity, there would be an appreciation for the Afro-Arab candidacy because it is represented by a quarter of the international community’s component, seeing that the 54 African states represent one fourth of the United Nations.

Some people echo that using money as a means of bribing has an impact on the votes, and we heard that the Qatari nominee said he didn't come to the organization with his hand free. What's your comment on that?

Such a statement is in fact inappropriate and unsuitable and reflects a kind of cynicism about the international organization, and hinting that money is a driving force.
There is a saying in the UNESCO that says that the organization is not for sale. It is an organization that is owned by the international society and cannot be sold to a particular state or individual who controls its ability and policy and those who support it. There is another saying that the UNESCO is not FIFA, and it is a prestigious and state-owned organization represented by permanent representatives, who must stand firmly to maintain the organization’s status.


What are the developments regarding the crisis with Qatar?

The four states continue to insist on protecting their national security and protecting their citizens from the negative effects of Qatar’s intervention in their internal affairs and protecting their citizens via targeting terrorist organizations directly or indirectly supported by Qatar.

In Egypt, we have made enormous sacrifices. Many lives were lost from the armed forces and the police, and many innocent civilians were killed, which is the reason we see it incumbent that Qatar modifies its harmful policy.

Our aim is for Qatar to declare that it has transformed its policies. That it has abandoned the support of terrorist elements and stopped allowing them to operate freely through its territory to target the four states.

Beyond that, Qatar should declare the end of its policies and its readiness to return to the common Arab framework, in which case there is every way to regain the relationship to build confidence and establish mechanisms to ensure that the four states implement these policies. It is up to the political administration of the Qatari government to ensure this policy is implemented.


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Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad-file photo


Did you not notice any response from the Qatari government under the Kuwaiti or American mediation?

Up until this moment, there is only evidence of the continuation of the previous Qatari approach. Qatar promotes itself as a victim. How do you deal with it, especially that the country spends a lot of funds abroad to improve its image and attack the four countries?

Qatar is not a victim, no matter how much it attempts to victimize itself. Have Qatari nationals been targeted by terrorism waged against Egypt or Saudi Arabia, and has the economy of Qatar been affected by such attacks like the Egyptian one? Exactly what is Qatar a victim of? Even the actions taken by the quartet are defensive.

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Saudi FM Adel al-Jubeir , UAE FM Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan , Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry and Bahraini FM Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa in Cairo on July 5 -REUTERS

The Qatari allegations are carried out through advertising companies and public relations that charge money to develop an image inconsistent with the truth. These aim to distort other states' reputation that are, in fact, the victims. This is in addition to lies broadcasted by Qatari media channels to distort the image of Arab countries, not only Egypt. We are witnessing this in Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and North African countries. These are all far-fetched allegations, pivoting on Qatar’s financial leverage to hire those who have the ability to publicize an image that is far from the truth.

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