A German Delegation Arrived in Cairo to Prepare for Merkel’s Visit to Egypt

A number of high-profile German MPs delegations arrived in Cairo this week in preparation for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Egypt on 2 March, reported al-Ahram, an Egyptian state-owned newspaper. 

The German delegation led by the deputy speaker of the German parliament (Bundestag), Johannes Singhammer, met with Ali Abdel-Aal, the speaker of the House of Representatives, according to a statement released by the Egyptian parliament’s press office .

The statement said that both parties “discussed boosting cooperation between Egypt and German in different fields and the possibility of creating new common grounds between Egypt and German on a number of international and regional issues.”

Moreover, the meeting was attended by the German ambassador to Egypt, Julius George Luy, the head of parliament’s foreign relations committee, Ahmed Said, and the head of the human rights committee, Alaa Abed.

The statement also revealed that more German MPs and politicians are expected to visit Cairo in the coming days to pave the road for Chancellor Merkel’s two-day visit on 2-3 March.

The statement said,”Another delegation of German MPs have also arrived in Cairo to hold talks with Egyptian counterparts who are members of the Egyptian-German Parliamentary Friendship Association.”

Mohamed El-Orabi, a former foreign minister of Egypt and a former Egyptian ambassador to Germany, told reporters that members of the association will hold a round table discussion on the future of relations between the two countries on Tuesday.

In addition, the statement stated that a third German delegation will arrive in Cairo on Wednesday.

Alaa Abed, head of the human rights committee, said that the speaker and MPs had seized their meeting with German MPs to thank Germany for its support to Egypt, especially in the two areas of “energy and armaments.”

Abed said, “We also told the German delegation that Egypt needs more direct German investments and an open tourist traffic from Germany to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.”

Abed also said that the meeting focused on terrorism and illegal migration.

Abed stated,”The parliament speaker talked in detail about new laws which were issued to fight illegal migration, human trafficking and combat terrorism.” He added, “German MPs showed a big interest in Egypt’s successful battle against terrorism.”

A statement issued by the speaker’s office said the meeting with the German parliamentary delegation also reviewed the situation of human rights in Egypt and the new law on church building.

According to the statement, Singhammer highly lauded Egypt’s efforts aimed at reforming religious discourse.

According to the statement, “Singhammer also hailed Egypt’s economic reform programme, especially liberalizing the exchange rate,” adding that Singhammer and German MPs will convey a message of economic and political stability about Egypt.

“We are also keen to show Germans that Egypt is a safe tourist destination and that the numbers of German tourists in Egypt should increase,” according to the statement.

In the same context, the German parliamentary delegation also met with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and the newly appointed Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marawan.

“Ismail gave the German delegation a brief about Egypt’s economic and political reforms and the war against militant jihadist groups in the peninsula of Sinai,”as reported by al-Ahram newspaper.

Moreover, Ismail spoke about the fact that around five million refugees are now living in Egypt. “Out of this number, as many as 500,000 Syrians also live in Egypt,” said Ismail.

The German chancellor Angela Merkel is set to arrive in Egypt this week for her first official visit to the country, where she will meet with Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt.

According to Egyptian state news agency (MENA),Merkel, who will be accompanied by a high-level economic delegation, will discuss with Al-Sisi economic ties, counter-terrorism efforts, security in the region, irregular migration, and the Libyan civil conflict.

Al-Sisi met with the German chancellor in May 2015 during his first official visit to Europe.

Moreover, Merkel and Al-Sisi discussed in a phone call cooperation in counter-terrorism efforts as well as recent regional and international development last January.

Egypt and Germany have strengthened their relations in the past few years.

Since 2014, Germany and Egypt have been working on a security cooperation agreement.

Many German officials have visited Egypt last year.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has met with his Egyptian counterpart Magdy Abdel Ghaffar multiple times last year.

Maiziere has called Egypt an “indispensable ally in the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration.”

During the visit at the end of March, Maiziere discussed ways to enhance cooperation in areas such as security, counter-terrorism, airport security, and immigration.

Moreover, German vice-chancellor and minister of economic affairs Sigmar Gabriel announced that potential arms deal with Egypt during a press conference held in Cairo in April 2016.

Gabriel said at the press conference that “The Egyptian government did not ask Germany for a weapons deal during this visit, but there was a discussion about supplying two naval submarines. We are ready to fully cooperate with Egypt to secure its borders with Libya.”

In this context, Egypt and Germany have signed a number of security cooperation agreements last July.

The agreements address a number of areas, including illegal immigration, counter-terrorism, and securing airports.

In this context, Egypt’s Minister of Interior Abdel Ghaffar signed an intelligence-sharing agreement, an extradition agreement including Interpol Red Notice warrants and an agreement that would see Germany train Egyptian security personnel to investigate financial crimes.

Germany also  announced a naval submarine deal with Egypt in 2012. Under the initial terms of the agreement, Germany would export four state-of-the-art military submarines to Egypt.

Last December, Germany handed over the first two submarines to Egypt.

In the same context, at an earlier time this year, Germany also removed restrictions on flights to South Sinai which was implemented in 2015 after a Russian passenger jet crashed shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport.

According to a foreign ministry statement,Germans accounted for the greatest number of tourists to visit Egypt in 2016, at 655,000 people.