Schallenberg in Cairo: – No one wants Egypt to “slide away”


Egypt is especially feeling the geopolitical effects of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. It is important to counter this, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said late Saturday night at the start of a visit to Cairo, in which he and Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (both ÖVP) will meet their respective counterparts on Sunday. “Nobody has an interest in North Africa’s largest country slipping away.”

As the main importer of Ukrainian wheat, Egypt is mainly suffering from the war-induced food crisis, Schallenberg noted. 80 percent of the wheat needed in Egypt is imported, with Ukraine and Russia as the main suppliers. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin is pushing up prices and impoverishing people in North Africa, Schallenberg criticized. “Russia is blocking Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, deliberately destroying grain silos and preventing normal cultivation and harvesting of the fields through ongoing hostilities,” the foreign minister said.

Rising oil prices a problem
Rising oil prices are also contributing to a very tense situation as gasoline is heavily subsidized in Egypt. “About 30 percent of the people in the country live at or below the poverty line. The potential for instability in the country and for migration to Europe is significant. The EU is trying to counter both trends and has made €100 million available to support food security in Egypt in the short term,” the foreign minister said before the trip.

Grants from the Gulf States
However, Egypt is already dependent on financial support from the Gulf States. While there is no looming hunger crisis as there are still supplies, fear is spreading among the population because of the price hikes. Large sections of the middle class would fear social decline or malaise. According to Schallenberg, Egypt is also experiencing a demographic explosion. The population has increased from nearly 71 million in 2005 to more than 100 million in 2020. The trend continues to increase.

Exploring the war in Ukraine
In connection with the Russian attack on the war in Ukraine, information and persuasion work also needs to be carried out, said the foreign minister. In North Africa, including Egypt, the “Russian narrative” is widespread, according to which EU sanctions against Russia are responsible for the devastating situation. For example, it should be explained to the population that the Russian attack on Ukraine is comparable to that of the Iraqi dictatorship on Kuwait in 1990. This would help to understand the real situation.

Source: Krone


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