Rebuilding trust is absolutely critical: Leon

Rebuilding trust is absolutely critical: Leon

European Union Special Envoy for the Southern Mediterranean Region Bernardino León holds a media roundtable discussion in Cairo on 19 September 2013 (Photo courtesy of the the European Union Delegation to Egypt)

European Union Special Envoy for the Southern Mediterranean Region Bernardino León holds a media roundtable discussion in Cairo on 19 September 2013 (Photo courtesy of the European Union Delegation to Egypt)

European Union Special Envoy for the Southern Mediterranean Region Bernardino León expressed concern over deepening rifts between camps in Egypt during his most recent visit.

“The question is not whether or not reconciliation is possible,” said León in Cairo on Thursday amidst a visit that is scheduled to conclude on Friday. “The question is whether or not it is necessary. It is necessary, so it has to be possible.”

The envoy met with the chairman of the 50-member assembly amending the constitution Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the National Salvation Front Ahmed Saeed, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy, representatives from the Salafi Al-Nour Party, and Minister of Transitional Justice Mohamed Amin Al-Mahdy.

León also met with Amr Darrag and Mohamed Ali Bishr to communicate with a side that includes the Muslim Brotherhood, which continues opposing the change of power that occurred on 3 July when Mohamed Morsi was removed from office.

The EU representative said both sides called for an inclusive political process during his meetings with them, something he said was necessary for a “constitution that has to last” and for a “sound democratic system.”

The government felt the Muslim Brotherhood and groups supportive of former president Morsi undermined trust by allegedly instigating violence, said León, while the recent crackdown, killing of protesters, and wave of arrests damaged trust from the Brotherhood side.

“If one side tries to oppose 100 percent of its views and to leave the other side with zero percent, it won’t work,” said León, adding that both sides needed to accommodate the other for reconciliation.

“The principle hasn’t changed although the situation is completely different,” he added, in reference to talks he had with Egyptian political actors following Morsi’s November constitutional decree, which gave him sweeping powers.

Despite the EU and the international community’s roles, “the future of Egypt has to be decided by Egyptians,” said León.“The more Egyptian the process is and the more Egyptian the proposals are, the sounder it will be,” he added.

León noted that High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton did not have plans for a future to visit to Egypt, but had expressed readiness to come to Cairo and has maintained contact with Egyptian officials.

Last week the EU passed a resolution on Egypt calling on ”all parties in Egypt to halt all acts of incitement to violence”.

“Supporting terrorism is a red line,” said León, who said the EU would continue “absolutely condemning” acts of violence in Sinai and other parts of Egypt.

 

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