Egypt aims to strengthen its international relationships

Egypt is extending its diplomacy to new relationships internationally. (Photo by Shutterstock). 

Egypt goes beyond the scope of its traditional emphasis on regional relations to expanding its relations internationally, writes Ahmad Abdul-Rahman.

Egypt has expanded its diplomatic ties in recent years, based on mutual cooperation. The tripartite cooperation agreement signed with Greece and Cyprus is one such deal. This was achieved through what can be called "gas diplomacy" rather than "development diplomacy".  "Gas diplomacy" is mainly based on the fact that a country benefits from cooperation in achieving political objectives while development diplomacy seeks to strengthen Egypt's position in getting financial assistance from global institutions.

There is also the drive for Egypt to diversify its alliances with other Arab countries so its priority is more than investment. New alliances would be similar to those it has formed with Iraq and Jordan, which are dominated by security. Another alliance, with Jordan and the UAE, is based on industrial and technological synergies.

Perhaps Egypt's unparalleled success in recent years was when the country was willing to transform issues of common interest with other international parties into diplomacy. In the context of international relations, this represents one of the country's most important achievements. As such, Egypt has been able to forge alliances with new partners to go beyond the region and engage internationally.

For example, it has formed a strong relationship with the Visegrad Alliance, a cultural and political alliance of four Central European countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, and participated in its last summit held in Egypt under the patronage of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. The relations with this alliance culminated in the visit to Egypt of Polish President Andrzej Duda. This shows not only the strength of the relationship, but also Egypt's willingness to forge alliances beyond the Arab world.

By adopting "gas diplomacy", expanding in the form of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, and "development diplomacy", Egypt has regained its  leadership of the Arab world. It has expanded in other areas too, including in the area of climate change. For example, COP27, will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

Egypt has also developed "security" diplomacy, which represents one of the most important components of the relationship with other Arab countries. This is important because the region has suffered from the threat of militias over the past decade. For Western Europe, too, security is a priority, since it has been prone to the threat of many terrorist operations over the years. There is also "crisis diplomacy", which involves coordinating internationally in times of crises, such as the Corona pandemic. This has forced Egypt to form strong relations with many international countries, including China. Another crisis is the Russia-Ukraine war, which has significant repercussions for the global economy.

Recently, Egypt's President El-Sisi, visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East; Germany, in Western Europe; and Serbia in Eastern Europe. "Climate diplomacy" dominated the visit to Germany, especially in light of Egypt's co-chairing the Petersburg Dialogue in 2023.

Talking, for example, about climate change in international forums would likely strengthen the Egyptian leadership, particularly among developing countries, where there is a desire to reduce carbon emissions. At the same time, Egypt's role has been strengthened in the developed world, since it has introduced environmental standards that can be exported elsewhere.

Egyptian diplomacy has succeeded in expanding its role both geographically, and sectorally. In the latter case it has diversified its spheres of interest. Cairo aims to become a center of international repute where all these issues can be discussed.

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Sunday, 25 September 2022