Partnership agreement signed with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairsedit
On Wednesday 6 February, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Policy Planning and Crisis Management Department of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affair’s (MFA) Director General, Ambassador Dr Walid M. Abdelnasser, and Richard Burge, Chief Executive of Wilton Park.
The partnership, which establishes the basis for future dialogue on areas of strategic and common interest, was announced by the UK Foreign Minister, William Hague MP, in September 2012 during a meeting in Cairo with President Mursi. The Foreign Secretary stated:
“As a sign of the importance we attach to cooperating on international affairs, the UK will, through Wilton Park… form a partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The partnership will convene conferences in Egypt on foreign policy issues. The outcome will be a richer and more informed debate on matters of regional and global concern, and will provide a strong Middle Eastern voice on foreign affairs.”
The MoU provides for cooperation in a number of areas including: intercultural and inter-faith dialogue, the future of Euro-Arab relations in light of the ‘Arab spring’, sustainable development including climate change, global prosperity, new and renewable sources of energy, Euro–Mediterranean relations, cooperation in science, technology and R&D activities, conflict resolution, economic relations between north and south, trade and investment and transfer of technology, United Nations reform issues, role of regional and sub-regional organizations in global governance, and global and regional security issues such as nuclear disarmament issues.
The signing took place during a week-long trip to Cairo and Alexandria in which Mr Burge met with a number of high-ranking MFA officials. He was also able to engage with members of the Egyptian press, as well as several influential academics and think tankers from the region.
In Alexandria, Mr Burge met with Ambassador Birgitta Holst-Alani, Director of the Swedish Institute Alexandria, with which we have had a long and successful relationship and additionally took part in a discussion on ‘Change and Sea Level Rising’ at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA). This presentation was led by the BA’s Director, Professor Ismail Serageldin, and was also attended by a number of the country’s top scientists.
In 2012, we held two conferences that addressed issues relating to Egypt and the region – the first looked at the Impact and challenges of the Middle East and North Africa one year on from the Arab transitions. The second addressed the potential for the Maghreb economy looking at how further integration would create a far more propitious climate for investment and trade, contributing, in turn, to the development of human resources, good governance and a vibrant civil society.
The MoU now provides us with a fresh opportunity to look at some hard issues effecting not only Egypt, but the region, and the wider world. The combination of our traditional power to convene with the expertise of Egyptians working on a range of diverse issues, will contribute greatly to new dialogues, some of which may be held within Egypt.
This partnership follows similar agreements between Wilton Park and the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as theCommunist Party School of China, highlighting our commitment to the pursuit of inclusive strategic dialogues across the world. Both of these agreements have provided the basis for a set of conferences based both here in West Sussex as well as in the region.