Egypt’s foreign policy accommodates world’s multipolarity: ECFA discussion
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  By HANAN FAYED

CAIRO: In a step to follow the world’s political  evolution, Egypt is working on changing its foreign policy to accommodate the “multipolarity” system, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Kamel Amr said in a conference held by the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA), Tuesday.

The two-day international conference dubbed “Egypt and the World… a New Era” was held in order to “correct misconceptions” of Egypt’s political development after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. The members of ECFA, which was formed 15 years ago, are predominantly former diplomats.

“To say that Egypt is turning its back to a certain power is emotional for it is rebalancing its relations,” Amr said at the “Egypt and the World’s Major Powers” session of the conference.

The U.S. delivered 10 Apache Helicopters to Egypt in November, but other than that, strategic cooperation has pretty much stopped in the past two years, said Mostafa Elwi, a Cairo University professor of political science.

China and Russia supported the change after June 30, 2013, when millions marched to topple Morsi, and exchanged visits between Egyptian officials and their counterparts from these two countries have been “very fruitful,” unlike U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visits to Egypt, Elwi added.

Amr explained that Egypt’s foreign policy has been successful in moving forward in coalitions, rather than its own, in the face of major powers, such as the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab League and as part of coordination with regional forces.

A month after a presidential summit with Greece and Cyprus in Cairo, the navies of the two Mediterranean countries’ began a maritime maneuver in December. The naval training was preceded by another exercise with United Arab Emirates and the U.S. in June and another one with France in May. In November 2013, Egypt and Russia held a joint training in the Red Sea.

The U.S. canceled Operation Bright Star with Egypt, which had been scheduled for September 2013, after the deadly dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo in August 2013. From Oct. 11 to Nov. 6, Egypt underwent an all-compassing military drill, which the military said is the largest since 1996.

“Ridding Egypt of the U.S. dominancy is not an easy task because it is the only country in the world that has the four factors of being a dominant power: military, economy, culture and science,” Elwy said.

However, he added that as bilateral relations with China and Russia have very wide and open horizons, renewed strategic relations with them should not stop at purchasing arms, but should expand to cooperation in manufacturing weapons in Egypt.

“Egypt’s decades-long reactionary approach should turn into an initiative,” Elwy said.

For his part, Councilor of the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs Wu Sike emphasized that China respects the Egyptian people’s will, and that foreign interference in Egypt’s internal affairs is “unacceptable.”

Economically, Elwy and Sike underlined that their countries realize the potential of their anticipate cooperation, especially in the New Suez Canal Project and the proposed project of the New Silk Road, planned to pass through Egypt and expected to change the course of world trade.

“After the revolution of June 30, relations with Egypt, including strategic relations, will deepen. Our government encourages Chinese companies to invest in Egypt’s Suez Canal and the route of the Silk Road in its territory,” said Sike, who was also a former Egyptian Ambassador, calling on Egypt to focus on development efforts to “compensate for the time it lost.”

In the same context, U.S. scholar Michelle Dunne had been invited as the only critical discussant at this session, but was denied entry into Egypt. Her barring was slammed by the ECFR and other Egyptian and foreign political scholars and activists.

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