The European Union’s foreign policy chief, visiting Cairo, has talked about adding a billion euros to current aid being given to Egypt. Encouraging free elections was another main point on Catherine Ashton’s agenda.
She said her aim was to see how the EU can help democratic transitions in the region the most: “In the longer term, as we say everywhere, it’s for people in these countries to be able to feel that they have a say in their own future, a say in their own destiny, but to do that in a peaceful manner, and being here in Egypt is a very good example of how that can be done.”
Egypt is now being governed by a military council. Analyst Michael Emerson said Europe is well-placed to offer suggestions where asked: “This is a turning of the page for EU policy, certainly, and if these countries, most of them, want to have what anybody would call more decent governance, rule of law, respect for human rights, that is fine, that is good. The European Union can support this.”
Ashton’s diplomatic trip to Egypt follows a six-hour visit there on Monday by British prime minister David Cameron, who was beginning a tour of Middle East countries.
UK arms manufacturers are also visiting the region, for the Middle East’s largest weapons fair, in Abu Dhabi.
The British PM’s office insisted that his aims were to boost business and to promote political reform.