Leadership Council for Human Rights

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

EU-Egypt: Human Rights, Nuclear Weapons Block Association Deal

As reported by AKI, the European Union Neighborhood Action Plan with Egypt has yet to reach final negotiations. In fact, specific protocol for the pact has been held up for the past two years due to the clash between Egypt’s and the EU’s varying stances on human rights in Egypt and nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Egypt has been insisting that the EU Neighborhood Action Plan include language about banning nuclear arms throughout the Middle East. In other words, Egypt is hinting that it would like the EU to focus on banning Israel’s nuclear program.

While the EU will not agree to such a demand, Egypt refuses to abide by the EU’s desire to address the human rights abuses in Egypt. Concerned about the slow pace of democratization in Egypt, the EU would like to address the independence of Egypt’s judiciary within the EU Neighborhood Action Plan.

The Neighborhood Action Plan will lead to freer trade between Egypt and the EU and may increase the amount of EU economic aid for Egypt. However, such results will not take place until both sides can reach some sort of compromise.

According to this piece,

“Egypt wanted to include a reference in the agreement to its position that the Middle East should be free of nuclear arms - a tacit demand that the EU tackle Israel's nuclear programme - the EU ambassador in Cairo, Klaus Ebermann told Reuters news agency.

“EU neighbourhood action plans are intended to allow closer economic, political and cultural ties but are conditional upon countries carrying out reforms in these areas. The EU continues to have concerns over Egypt's human rights record and the pace of democratisation. However, Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit reportedly told the European side during one-day talks in Luxembourg that political change must stem from Egyptian concepts, and that his government would not accept political conditions.

“El Kamel told AKI that the differences over human rights that had emerged between the two sides during Tuesday's talks were "purely formal," and that Gheit said he could not comment on 'definitions and details' that the EU had inserted in the text of the agreement before he consulted the Egyptian cabinet.

“ ‘Further complications arose over the insertion of a paragraph on the independence of Egypt's magistrates, but I believe that conforming to democratic standards does not necessarily mean passively following the position of others on the question,’ El Kamel noted.”

To read the article in full, click here


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