- Middle East/North Africa
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her hope to support stability and democracy in the Middle East and Egypt, during President Mohamed Morsy’s one-day visit to Berlin Wednesday.
The visit, which focused mainly on economic issues and attracting investment and tourism to Egypt, came after official invitation from the German chancellor.
Morsy said the invitation shows Germany’s keenness to deepen its relationship with Egypt, and its desire to promote cooperation between the two countries, which Egypt reciprocates.
“We stress our firm and clear commitment in front of the Egyptian people and the world that we will move forward in building a civil state,” Morsy said during a news conference with Merkel, going on to specifically describe it as a “non-theocratic state.”
He said the democratic transition began with the March 2011 constitutional referendum, and continued with parliamentary and presidential elections. He said the building of institutions would be finished after the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Morsy stressed that he does not want to use extraordinary measures during the transition phase. He declared a state of emergency and curfew, only in the cities adjacent to the Suez Canal, he said, to protect innocent citizens from murder, and institutions from assaults.
The state of emergency will only be continued based on reports from security agencies, Morsy noted.
The president emphasized his respect for Judaism and Jews, but added that he is against any follower of a religion who commits acts assaulting citizens and violating international laws.
He stressed that his remarks about Jews published two weeks ago “were taken out of context.”
“As a Muslim, I’m told to respect all religions, and I believe in the right of people to believe, as long as it is within the framework of the general law of the country in which they live,” Morsy said.
Morsy said he and Merkel discussed building a pluralist democracy during their meeting. He expressed his pleasure with Merkel’s knowledge about developments in Egypt, saying it reflects Germany’s interest in Egypt’s stability, which he said leads him to say that “Germany should have a role in supporting the Egyptian economy, especially on the scientific and tourist side.”
Merkel said they discussed the political situation in Egypt, in addition to the Egyptian role in Gaza, the peace process in the Middle East and the possibility of the Palestinian and Israeli two-state solution.
The Egyptian president said he spoke with Merkel on the mechanism of the cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis.
The two leaders also discussed the Syrian crisis, demanding the departure of the Syrian regime. Germany expressed its readiness to start talks over the issue.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm