Visit to ECFA by the Ambassador of Australia to Cairo
On April 3, 2023, ECFA hosted Mr. Axel Wabenhorst, Ambassador of Australia to Cairo, where he was received by Ambassador Mohamed El Oraby, ECFA Chairman, and Ambassador Ezzat Saad, ECFA Director. The meeting focused on Egypt-Australia relations and means to enhance them, in addition to a number of regional and international issues. The guest indicated that his country witnessed parliamentary elections in 2022, which resulted in a new government led by the Labor Party, focusing much of its efforts on combating climate change and its widespread negative impacts on Australia. The meeting also discussed the recent changes in Australian foreign policy compared to the past, such as involvement in the “AUKUS” alliance and the deal for American nuclear-powered submarines, which are planned to be delivered to Australia. The guest stated that this deal had received the support of various actors in the country, and was the result of developments in the region, and the risks they entail.
Regarding the economic relations between Egypt and Australia, and related investments, the guest pointed out that there are difficulties in this regard, given the concentration of most Australian companies’ operations in the mining sector. However, there are some companies operating in a number of major national projects in Egypt, one of which is “Worley” company, which provides consulting services to the Egyptian government. He also indicated that a bilateral cooperation project is being implemented, according to which Egyptian fruit will be exported to Australia for canning, which would help increase the volume of trade exchange between the two countries and open more joint investment horizons.
In addition, the meeting discussed the issue of normalizing Arab relations with Syria and the latter’s return to the Arab League, as well as the recent Egypt-Türkiye rapprochement, as the Egyptian side indicated that this is a normal result of the recent changes witnessed in the regional arena. In addition, the recent earthquake that struck both Türkiye and Syria in February 2023 also contributed to further paving the way. Regarding Libya, ECFA stated that the Libyan crisis suffers from extreme complexity due to the involvement of many international parties, with different agendas. In this context, in response to an inquiry regarding Australia’s view of the Ukrainian crisis, the guest indicated that the general feeling in his country is similar to the European feeling, as the Australian people support Ukraine in its “just” war against Russian “aggression,” stressing that the issue of settlement depends on the decision of both Russia and Ukraine alone, adding that Ukraine will not give up defending its territory no matter how long the war lasts, and that Russia’s actions would bring it more rivalry and hostility, as a result of the many negative repercussions it has had on peoples’ lives, the least of which are food shortages and high energy prices.
On the other hand, and in connection with the Palestinian cause and its developments, as Israel continues to expand its settlements in the occupied territories, ECFA denounced the flagrant Western double standards towards Israel and its actions against the Palestinian people, compared to the rapid Western mobilization of all forms of support to help Ukraine and its people in its crisis, based on the fact that Russia is an aggressor and occupier of Ukrainian territories. ECFA invited the guest to deliver a lecture to ECFA members about Australia’s foreign policy, its relations with Egypt, and its position and visions regarding current international issues, which was welcomed by the Australian Ambassador.