A delegation from Russian Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s Federal Assembly, headed by Valentina Matviyenko arrived to Cairo on Friday.
Egypt’s Al-Sisi met with chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko on Saturday in Cairo’s Ittihadiya presidential palace, state news agency MENA reported.
During the meeting both countries discussed ways to boost cooperation between Egypt and Russia in various fields in the upcoming period, according to TASS, a Russian News Agency.
They also discussed combating terrorism and the latest developments in regional crises, as well as possible solutions.
The Russian delegation met also with Egyptian officials. In this context, Valentina Matviyenko, the chairperson of the Russian Federation Council, met with Egyptian parliament speaker Ali Abdul Aal.
In a joint press conference with Abdul Aal, Matviyenko said that Egypt achieved 90% of requirements needed for the resumption of Russian flights, pointing out that the tragic plane crash necessitates pushing for strict airport security measures.
Egypt and the Russian Delegation Talks on Enhancing Cooperation in Military and Civil Manufacturing
Russia’s first deputy minister of industry and trade Gleb Nikitin and an accompanying Russian delegation met with the Minister of Military Production Mohamed Al-Assar at the Ministry of Military Production to discuss cooperation between both countries.
During the meeting, El-Assar stressed on enhancing cooperation with Russia in fields of military and civil manufacturing.
El-Assar also added that the ministry is ready to activate its partnership with Russia in different manufacturing sectors—such as the manufacturing of medical equipment—in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Health.
There were also discussions about the aim of importing 700 train wagons from a Hungarian-Russian company to be assembled in one of the ministry’s factories, in coordination with the Egyptian Ministry of Transportation.
In the same context, Gleb Nikitin said that he aims to enhance cooperation with the Ministry of Military Production in different fields, including civil manufacturing.
Nikitin mentioned that the most prominent of those projects could be the establishment of a Russian industrial zone in Egypt, the construction of a join pharmaceutical industry plant, and the joint manufacturing of ambulances.
The Russian top official also added that both countries can also cooperate in fields of automotive-feeding industries, as well as in the joint manufacturing of Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (GAZ) cars in Egypt, except for passenger cars.
Moreover, the two sides agreed to exchange visits and continue discussions until reaching final agreements.
The Russian Delegation and Talks on Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant
During her visit to Cairo, Russian parliament’s upper house speaker Valentina Matvienko said that Moscow is interested in the successful construction of the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in north Egypt, according to Sputnik, a Russian News Agency.
Matvienko reminded that the main contract for the construction of the NPP was signed in the end of 2016.
Matvienko said a meeting with Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail that, “As for the construction of the nuclear plant it is for sure a strategic and the biggest joint project by our countries and we are interested in its successful realization.”
The Egyptian prime minister said that Egypt and Russia may agree remaining three contracts on construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant within the coming weeks.
He added,”Indeed, the main commercial contract has been signed, further three contracts on operation, maintenance and fuel supply remain. I will be in contact with the [Russian] energy minister over this issue. I expect to finalize the issue this week or the week after.”
In November 2015, Russia and Egypt signed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of the Dabaa NPP, consisting of four nuclear power units, 1,200 megawatt each, on the Mediterranean Sea coast.
No Decisive Statement on the Resumption of Flights to Egypt
Despite Valentina Matviyenko statement that Egypt achieved 90% of requirements needed for the resumption of Russian flights, however their still no signs of a decisive time for the resumption of flights back to Egypt.
The Russian New Agency (TASS)reported that the visit was “not related to the issue of resuming air traffic” to Egypt, adding that positive results were expected but that there were details that “the Russian side is not satisfied with concerning flight security.”
In the same context, on the air with Rossiya 24 TV Channel, Russia’s Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov has said that the Russian aviation experts did not make definite conclusions regarding quick resumption of air traffic with Egypt.
The minister said, “A team of specialists and experts arrived from Cairo has not yet reached a firm conclusion that we will be ready to resume the air traffic to Cairo in near future.”
Sokolov added, Egyptian authorities need to focus on working with the staff in national airports.
He said, “The most important point our Egyptian colleagues need to focus on now is work with the staff supervising the aviation security and monitoring access to the air side and to the airport on the whole.”
In fact, the latest media report contradicts with what has been previously released by the Russian newspaper Izvestia in February that reported that Matviyenko and her delegation would mainly discuss resuming air flights between Russia and Egypt.
Russia started its inspection over Cairo airports after a Russian Metro jet flight crashed in Sinai Peninsula shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport on 31 October 2015, resulting in the death of all 224 passengers and crew on board.
Sinai Province, an affiliated group to the Islamic State (ISIS), claimed responsibility for downing the Russian flight.
As a result, Russia suspended passenger flights to Egypt shortly after the crash.
Moreover, a number of European countries suspended flights to Sharm El-Sheikh following the 2015 crash.
According to many observers there would be four main reasons behind the Russian decision not to resume the tourist flights back to Cairo in the near future, the most important of all is to blackmail al-Sisi to sign more arm deals with Russia, Daesh new threats and the discovery of anti-craft missile near Cairo airport.
Egypt strives to restore tourism in the country to revive its wrecked economy. However, the latest discovery will probably have negative repercussions on security conditions in Egypt.
Egypt’s tourism is one of the major sources of foreign currency in the country, that suffers from an economic crisis due to the shortage of foreign currency. The number of tourists fell 40% in the first quarter of 2016.
Tourism revenues have fallen as result of security instability in Egypt after the military coup in 2013 against Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.
Last January, Tarek Amer, the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) told a parliament’s economic committee that foreign exchange revenues from tourism has declined from $11 billion in 2011 to $3.4 billion in 2016.