Egypt 'is at war against terrorism, and Italy understands'

Minister tells ANSA on eve of president Sisi's visit to Rome

21 November, 16:27

    Egtpt's minister for Industry and Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour (from the ministry's Facebook page) Egtpt's minister for Industry and Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour (from the ministry's Facebook page)

    (by Laurence Figà-Talamanca) (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, NOVEMBER 21 - ''Egypt is at war (against terrorism) and must be able to choose its priorities'', Egypt's Industry and Trade Minister, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, tells ANSA on the eve of the visit of President Abdel Fattah al Sisi to Rome and Paris.

    The minister will accompany Sisi on his tour, along with three other cabinet members and a delegation of entrepreneurs.

    ''At this difficult and exceptional time, the priority is to fight terrorism, also at the expense of human rights''.

    The visit has two main objectives: reassuring Italian investors over ''changes and new laws enabling to create an environment that can attract investments in Egypt, where the growth rate in the last trimester was 6.8%''. But most of all, obtaining the ''political support'' of the rotating EU presidency ''in confronting the threat of terrorism'', a danger which risks ''to move on the other shore of the Mediterranean''.

    After all, recalled Abdel Nour, ''Italy was the first European country to understand what was happening in Egypt after June 30, 2013 (with the ouster of then-president Mohamed Morsi) and to take a position supporting the popular movement. Italy has a very positive attitude''.

    Italian Premier Matteo Renzi was the first European leader to travel to Cairo last August, and Rome is the first leg of Sisi's European tour, ''and not just for geographic reasons'', noted the minister. ''Ensuring cooperation and political support to Egypt is the minimum that can be done'' given the threat posed by terrorism ''across the region'', stressed the minister, instead of ''launching accusations, like some countries in northern Europe that don't understand or know the situation''.

    The reference regarded accusations the Sisi government fails to respect human rights.

    ''Certainly, an activist is not necessarily a terrorist'', said the minister. ''But when they mingle, things get dangerous'', claimed Adel Nour, who was born in a Coptic family and was a businessman before entering politics. ''For example in universities (where dozens of students have been arrested since the start of the academic year), we do our best, but it's hard to make a distinction between activists and terrorists. If we don't act, they tell us we are weak, if we do we are accused of failing to respect human rights''. ''But it is a transitional phase that will end with the last phase of the road map, legislative elections in the next few months''. The vote was originally scheduled in the fall but has been postponed to next spring. (ANSAmed)

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