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Brussels, 3 May 2011

Commissioner Štefan Füle visits Egypt

Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy visited Cairo on the 2 and 3 May where he met government representatives and a broad range of civil society organisations and other stakeholders. This visit follows up on the recent visits to Egypt made by Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

"I have come here to express the support of the European Union to the Egyptian people and their legitimate request for democracy, human rights and a better future. The determination of the Egyptian people to defend their democratic aspirations and move from authoritarian rule to genuine multiparty democracy is humbling and commendable. Since the beginning of the uprising, the EU has been very clear in urging the Egyptian authorities to listen to the voices of the Egyptian people." said Commissioner Štefan Füle in Cairo on the 3rd May.

Egypt is changing as are both its neighbours and the European Union itself. To take into account these fundamental changes, the EU is adapting its policies. The Commission and the High Representative proposed a new approach in the Joint Communication of 8 March on a "Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity", which will be further elaborated in the Joint Communication on the European Neighbourhood Policy review under preparation. The EU intends to promote a new approach which will be founded on key principles such as differentiation, increased support and incentives to those partners that are taking clear steps towards reforms. The EU also intends to strengthen its dialogue and cooperation with civil society.

In talks with Commissioner Štefan Füle's Egyptian interlocutors, a number of issues were raised, notably EU-Egypt bilateral relations and regional issues. There are reasons for concern about a number of reported human rights violations in Egypt. These reports run counter to the assurances given by the military Council on the protection of human rights for all citizens of Egypt. Harsh sentences applied to civilians by military courts, including for example a blogger for his critical views presented on the internet, arbitrary detentions and torture in prisons are worrying.

The EU remains committed to supporting and assisting the Egyptian people and authorities in their endeavour to uphold the democratic principles underpinning the transition in Egypt. The EU is ready to engage in a new partnership with Egypt based on the respect of universal values.

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