Germany’s chancellor on Tuesday underlined the crucial role of civil society in Egypt after meeting in Berlin with the visiting Egyptian president.
“President [Fattah] al-Sisi repeatedly says he wants to be the president of all Egyptians, and he is currently enjoying his second term in office,” Angela Merkel told a joint press conference at the Chancellory.
“We are encouraging him to develop civil society and see that as an opportunity,” she said, but stopped short of criticizing the country’s human rights situation.
Merkel also thanked Egypt for its efforts to stop the flow of illegal immigration into Europe.
“Egypt is controlling its maritime border in an excellent way. There is no immigration into Europe, despite the fact that there are many refugees living in the country,” she stressed.
Merkel said during their meeting, they also discussed regional issues, including the situation in Libya and in Syria, and the Middle East conflict.
“We also briefly discussed the situation in Gaza. Both of us are advocates of a two-state solution, which however has become rather complex, because of the current situation,” she said.
Al-Sisi is in Berlin to attend the G20 Compact with Africa conference, hosted by the German government to support private investment and infrastructure projects in Africa.
A former army chief, al-Sisi ousted Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in a military coup in 2013.
A year later, he was elected president for a four-year term.
He was re-elected this March in elections in which he won a whopping 97.8 percent of votes. All but one of his challengers either withdrew from the race or were arrested.