Situation in Egypt - 5 Feb 2014
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece
European Parliament, Plenary Session
5 February 2014
Mr President, Honourable Members,
Three years have passed since the Egyptian people from all walks of life rose against a repressive regime calling for freedom, human dignity, social justice and a better economy. Throughout that period Europe has been standing by the Egyptian people with the aim to support political inclusivity and democratic transition. And we will remain committed in our support to the Egyptian people
A large number of individuals have lost their lives in the struggle for a democratic society and a better future for their children and families. Many more have suffered injuries. The 25 January 2014 should have been a day of celebration for democracy-building and a day of remembrance of these brave people.
It is therefore with great concern that we have followed the violent events and again loss of life, before and during the recent constitutional referendum, and on the occasion of the third anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. The HRVP has condemned in the clearest possible terms all acts of violence, disproportionate use of force as well as terrorist attacks.
The ratification of the new Constitution by the referendum on 14 and 15 January is a positive development as long as it allows the swift and full implementation of the road map.
The lack of a truly representative drafting process and the lack of political space for dissenting opinion is extremely worrying, and so is the challenging environment for freedoms of assembly and expression.
Our message is clear: without full respect of human right the road map will lead nowhere.
The new National Charter is an improvement, notably the human rights chapter including freedom of expression, assembly and women's rights. It is crucial that all existing and future legislation fully complies with the Constitution and with international standards.
The Constitution should also be applied in a way that ensures full civilian control over all branches of government, and civilians should be tried in civilian courts at all times.
The EU followed the referendum and, while we were not in the position of verify alleged irregularities, these do not appear to have fundamentally affected the final outcome.
We welcome the announcement of elections. This should lead now to a democratically elected President and a fair representation of different political views in the future parliament.
The EU has been invited to observe the upcoming elections sending full-fledged Election Observation Missions, headed by one of the Members of this House. We would have the capacity and instruments to assess whether conditions are conducive to inclusive, transparent and credible elections, allowing a level playing field for the election campaigns, and to assess also the conduct of these elections.
It is clear that, for the future stability of Egypt, these elections should lead to a democratically elected President and a fair representation of different political views in the future parliament.
We are extremely concerned by the unacceptable detention of political dissidents and journalists.
Freedom of expression, assembly and peaceful protest must be safeguarded.
The EU calls on the authorities to ensure the defendants' rights to a fair and timely trial based on clear charges and proper and independent investigations, as well as the right of access and contact to lawyers and family members.
The EU is also particularly concerned about the deteriorating economic situation and the negative impact on the less favoured categories of the population. Today half of the population live in real poverty and the most vulnerable of them are children. In that context the EU will continue its support in improving the social and economic conditions to ensure stability, investment and progress towards social justice and to assist Egypt in carrying out fundamental economic reform measures.
Building a deep and sustainable democracy is a long and sometimes very bumpy road. We know that from our own experience. Democracy-building requires hard work, commitment and compromise from all political sides and not losing focus of the end-result which is about democratic, transparent and accountable institutions that protect all citizens of Egypt and their fundamental rights.