Meeting with Mr. Jörgen Persson, Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Ambassador of Sweden in Cairo
On September 8, 2022, ECFA Director Ambassador Ezzat Saad received Mr. Jörgen Persson, Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Ambassador of Sweden in Cairo – at his request – who began his speech by noting that they pay special attention to the Climate Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh in November 2022, and that due to the elections taking place in Sweden on September 11, it is not clear who is the prime minister who is supposed to participate in the Summit. He added that in the context of their interest in the issue of climate change and its repercussions, they have recently appointed a Special Envoy on the issue of “Climate Change and Security”, in addition to a Special Envoy for Climate who has been working for a long time. He also indicated that they have been involved for several years in efforts to find a mechanism for collective security in the Middle East region, alike the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as a framework for dialogue and interaction between the neighboring regional countries, Turkey, Iran and Israel, and the Arab League member states with the aim of crystallizing interests and common denominators in order to enhance regional stability, prevent conflicts and address common challenges.
Accordingly, the guest mentioned that his country is supporting a regional dialogue that includes some interested personalities from a number of countries in the region, including Egypt, adding that the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports some think tanks, specifically the “Institute for Islamic Strategic Affairs in Sweden and the German Berghof Foundation, to crystallize that mechanism, and that a draft charter for a regional mechanism for security and cooperation in the Middle East (MESAC) has already been drafted. In this context, a delegation of those who participated in the preparation of this project will visit Cairo, and some other capitals in the region, to consult on its content, which will be the basis for discussion. He added that the delegation – consisting of three members from Iraq, the UAE and Turkey – will visit Cairo on the 18th and 19th of September, and that they hope that the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs will receive the delegation and hold a consultative session with it on this project, which was welcomed by the ECFA director.
On his part, Ambassador Saad explained that other European embassies in Cairo – the latest of which was the Embassy of the Netherlands – raised this issue a short time ago, adding that within the framework of ECFA’s handling of regional security issues, initiatives for collective security in the region are being discussed, including the idea of “Arab Neighborhood”, which was put forward by Mr. Amr Moussa years ago, and is based on calling non-Arab regional countries for dialogue with Arab countries. He indicated in this regard that the Arab side had already shown good intentions and full cooperation in this regard when it got involved in the Madrid Peace Process in 1991/1992, when multilateral working groups were formed to discuss all regional issues such as arms control, regional security, the environment, economic cooperation, water and others. Unfortunately, with the rise of the extreme right in Israel and the reluctance of the United States and Europe to play any positive role in the peace process, Israel’s pressures to remove the Palestinian cause from the international agenda has increased. The “deal of the century” adopted by the previous U.S. Administration came to confirm the US’s lack of interest in reviving a political process through which a just settlement to the Palestinian cause could be found. The current administration follows the path of its predecessor, whether in terms of encouraging more normalization or only talking about what is called economic peace, which was evident from President Biden’s visit to the region last July. Accordingly, it is difficult to talk about a mechanism for security and cooperation in the region, especially in the absence of the minimum level of trust that should be available in non-Arab parties, particularly Israel.
The guest commented by saying that they appreciate that there is a change in the current regional conditions, and that there is greater acceptance of Israel and cooperation with it by the countries of the region, as embodied in the Negev Summit with the participation of Foreign Ministers of Israel, the United States, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, which was held after the summit of last March in Sharm El-Sheikh, with the participation of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the UAE Mohamed bin Zayed, and Naftali Bennett, former Israeli Prime Minister. Ambassador Saad indicated that the political elite in Israel has been seeking for some time to present the process of normalization with some Arab countries, whether to the Israeli interior or to supporters of Israel abroad, as there is no longer such a thing as the Palestinian cause and that it is the Arab countries that seek Israel on the basis of common interests. He also drew the guest’s attention to the extreme enthusiasm of the West in supporting Ukraine to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and at the same time its reluctance to make any effort to end the Israeli occupation of the territories of other countries in accordance with the decisions of the UN resolutions.