President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday, to discuss the means for supporting bilateral relations and a number of other issues, including the internal developments on the Egyptian scene and civil society organisations working in Egypt, in addition to counter terrorism.
After the meeting, Al-Sisi and the German Chancellor held a press conference, in which Al-Sisi began by expressing his sincere thanks to Merkel on her generous invitation to visit Germany. He then emphasised that Egypt cherishes the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Egypt seeks through communication with the German side to improve and consolidation these relations, he said.
The president also expressed his thanks to all the Egyptians who headed to Germany from all across Europe to express their support for Egypt.
Al-Sisi pointed out that Egypt is motivated to achieve freedom and democracy, but that the current circumstances in the country are extremely difficult. He then noted that his meeting with the German leaders addressed, in detail, the development of the scene in Egypt and the political achievements of the past period.
“If it wasn’t for Egypt and its people, who went out in millions to fight religious fascism, the region would have been very different,” said Al-Sisi.
Al-Sisi added that the Egyptian military’s relation with the people is special because the military is from the people and owned by them, not any president, whether Mubarak or Al-Sisi.
Regarding the death sentences, Al-Sisi said that democracy means that everyone has their own point of view, and that his point of view should be respected, just as he respects the German one. According to Al-Sisi, Egypt is a constitutional state with laws and sovereignty, and the Egyptian judiciary system is independent. The judiciary rulings are not to be commented on nor discussed. However, some clarifications could be made, said Al-Sisi, adding that the files referred to the Grand Mufti for consultation were only to make sure it was done as per Shar’ia.
Al-Sisi said that rulings in absentia are dropped once the person is arrested, and his trial restarts. There are different levels for judiciary rulings: the order for execution is the first, followed by other stages to prove the accused person did commit such an act.
He further clarified that he discussed with the German Chancellor many topics; on the top of them came the situation in the region, combating terrorism, civil society organisations and their role in Egypt. The role of these organisations was critical during the last few years because of the revolutionary situation in Egypt.
He added that Egypt is in a revolutionary situation; what occurred was not an attempt to tightening the noose around the organisations.
Responding to a question from a German journalist about the possibility of revoking the death sentence against former president Mohamed Morsi, Al-Sisi said that the ousted president was democratically elected. However, the only way for the Egyptian people, who gave him 51% of their votes, to withdraw his legitimacy in accordance with the constitution was through taking to the Egyptian streets.
The president added: “I understand what the death sentence means for Germans, and I assure you again that it is a first degree of litigation; I cannot go beyond time and procedures, but let us leave procedures and trials take their time to see what can be done after that.”
On the other hand, Merkel emphasised Germany’s appreciation of Egypt’s efforts in achieving internal stability both economically and politically, and also in the region around it as Egypt is an important central country in the region. She further pointed to the close Egyptian-German cooperation in various fields. She said that the ongoing dialogue between the two countries is the only way to present differences in points of view.
Merkel said Germany cannot face the dangers of terrorism alone, which is why cooperation with Egypt in this regard is crucial. In response to a question regarding the extent of Germany’s support in this matter, she said that this visit will lay the foundation for regular contact and extensive cooperation between Egypt and Germany in the future to confront this danger.
She added that the talks between them addressed all issues related to the bilateral partnership between the two countries. Merkel also expressed her hopes for Egypt’s economic development to achieve broad future prospects for its people. She added that this is why the Egyptian German Joint Economic Committee is also in session simultaneously with Al-Sisi’s visit. The committee is discussing Germany’s participation in this development. The Chancellor expressed her belief that Egypt is going in the right direction, noting that this was why the German Minister of Commerce attended the Economic Summit of Sharm El-Sheikh at the helm of a large economic delegation. She added that Germany is doing everything in its power to support the Egyptian economy.
The German Chancellor affirmed that Germany understands Egypt’s central role in handling regional issues, like pushing the peace process and breaking its deadlock, as well as its role in achieving the reconciliation between the Fatah and Hamas movements.
The German Chancellor further pointed to the importance of the Egyptian role in restoring stability in Libya, noting that Egypt is facing dangers because of the borders with its neighbour. She moreover highlighted the importance of combating the danger of terrorism that “Islamic State” represents.
She clarified that Egypt and Germany will settle joint strategies to face that danger, adding that Egyptians wish to live in peace and security, and Germany will help them to achieve that goal.
Merkel said that the discussions with President Al-Sisi addressed the disagreements between the two countries’ points of view, such as in the issue of the future of the German civil society organisations working in Egypt and the necessity of resuming their activity. She further emphasised that Germany rejects the death sentences.