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V4 and Egypt: Mutual Interests and Challenges
Online roundtable discussion about the European Union’s policy towards the Middle East, with a special emphasis on those of the V4 countries. The discussion also included the strategic partnership among Eastern Europe, Israel, and the broader Mediterranean, security and stability issues in the MENA region, and economic cooperation along the same lines.
Event reportThe Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT) held an online roundtable discussion entitled ‘V4 and Egypt: Mutual Interests and Challenges‘ on the 11th of October 2021. The participants included Amb. Abderahman Salaheldin, the former Ambassador to the Czech Republic and a Member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, Jan Daniel, the Head of the Centre for the Study of Global Regions and Institute of International Relations Prague, Sara Nowacka, a Senior Analyst of Polish Institute of International Affairs, and Máté Szalai, a Senior Research Fellow and the Middle East and North Africa Program Manager of IFAT. The event was moderated by Tamás Péter Baranyi, the Deputy Director for Strategy of IFAT. Jan Daniel, the first speaker of the discussion, touched on the topic of Czech foreign policy towards the Middle East. According to him, three priority areas should receive further attention: strategic partnership between the Czech Republic and Israel, security and stability issues, and economic cooperation. In respect of the Czech and Egyptian bilateral relations, a more advanced economic and industrial cooperation can be seen beside the security aspects, which appears in the form of Czech soldiers deployed in Egypt. Lastly, the researcher called for common development opportunities which can enhance V4 cooperation concerning Egypt. The Polish point of view was presented by Sara Nowacka. According to a recent agreement, Poland established its first industrial zone in Egypt which will also be the first European of its kind. A crucial factor for Poland regarding the region is stability, tackling the root causes of migration, and the global fight against terrorism. From the perspective of V4-Egypt relations, a common platform where know-how could be exchanged would be a chance for more advanced cooperation. His Excellency Amb. Abderahman Salaheldin shared his ideas on how V4 countries and Egypt can work closely on issues of mutual interest such as migration, counter-terrorism, digital transformation, and tourism. As for migration, tightening border control in Egypt to prevent illegal trafficking is beneficial for both sides. The danger posed by civil wars in African countries, a major cause of migration, can be managed with trilateral projects more effectively. Regarding terrorism, the prevention of using religion violently for political purposes is a problem that both occurs in Europe and the MENA region. Máté Szalai, the last speaker of the event, elaborated on the European Union’s policy towards the Middle East, which is in line with the interests of the V4 countries and also with Hungary’s. In addition, it overlaps many times with the concerns of Egypt. One of the key issues is European energy security, which is affected by not just Egyptian gas reserves but Egyptian aspirations to become a regional hub as well. Egyptian-European relations in energy policy will highly be transformed by the green transition agenda which might be a basis for further cooperation. For Hungary and all other three countries, the phenomenon of state vacuums is considered to be the most concerning. The last example where the interests are in line is accommodating to the changing global order. As a closing remark, Szalai raised awareness of the problem the European states are facing, which is ineffective differentiation between different levels of cooperation. During the Q&A session, further aspects of cooperation were specified, especially in terms of the different levels of cooperation, the role of the civil sphere in enhancing cooperation, as well as developments in the energy market.
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