“Partnership with Europe” Conference: Neighborhood Policy shocks civil society while Western governments are slowly abandoning their support to democracy in the region

In Euro-Mediterranean Partnership by

A number of human rights’ activists criticized the European work plan with the Egyptian government in the framework of Neighborhood Policy (NP), which surprised the civil society in Egypt due to the fact that it ignored the 2005 recommendations of Egyptian non-governmental organizations –NGOs. The Egyptian government has withdrawn its pursuit of reform in Egypt, while increasing its scope of suppression around the civil society in the country.

During the event of the Conference for Civil Society, Human Rights and Democracy organized by EURO-MESCO in collaboration with Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (Al Ahram CPSS), some human rights activists have participated in a session titled “Human Rights in the Euro-Med Agenda”, asserting that Western governments have abandoned their support to democratization in the Arab Region due to this NP.

Mr. Magdy Abdul Hamid, Chairman of the Egyptian Association for the Support of Societal Participation explained that the Euro-Med Partnership Initiative still needs to be reconsidered so as to include a southern view of the status of human rights and democratization in a practical fashion, as opposed to the void theoretical approach usually adopted.

Mr. Abdul Hamid pointed out that since the signing of the Barcelona Pact in 1995, partnership came in the context of peace between Israel and Arab states so as to create a peaceful and flourishing zone. He clarified that all the parties concerned achieved what they had aimed for, however on the expense of human rights causes in the region. European countries, then, and because they were themselves looking for a secure neighborhood, sacrificed some human rights and democracy-related issues in the region to achieve this goal.

Mr. Moataz Al Fegeiry, Programs Director at The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, asserted that adopting the work plan with the Egyptian government in the framework of NP was a shock to the civil society and human rights organizations in Egypt because it did not consider the 2005 recommendations of Egyptian NGOs, as well as did not consider reversing the government’s current withdrawal in pursuing reform in Egypt and suppressing the civil society.

Dr. Amr Al Shobky, an expert in Al Ahram CPSS stated that Europe can play an extremely significant role in establishing the values of justice and liberty in Egypt, and the rest of the Arab States. Mr. Shobky asserted that there is a real need for establishing mutual grounds between northern and southern states of the Mediterranean in international relations and foreign policies, especially subsequent to the utter failure of the United States foreign policy, when the US “war on terrorism” turned into a main generator of terrorism around the globe.

Mr. Shobky ended his note by stating that Egypt has a remarkable opportunity to provide an alternative to the intrusion of the US forces through establishing bridges of constructive dialogue between northern and southern states of the Mediterranean to come up with well-studied and useful visions, ideas and policies in the region for all parties concerned.

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