EU 'won't go too far' in condemning Egypt violence, report says

Al-Ahram quotes European diplomat as saying that "reassuring messages" by Egyptian officials would "help reduce the level of apprehension."

By JPOST.COM STAFF
August 19, 2013 13:15
2 minute read.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters protest in Giza Square, south of Cairo, August 18, 2013.

MB supporters giza square 18.8.13 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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The European Union "won’t go too far" in condemning the Egyptian military’s brutal crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian news organization Al-Ahram reported Monday, citing a European diplomat in Cairo.

According to Al-Ahram’s English website, Egyptian military leader General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi sought to calm Western concerns over the recent violence that has claimed more than 800 lives, telling a meeting of senior army officials in Cairo on Sunday that Egypt will not be ruled by the military, and that a plan of action devised after Morsi’s ouster to restore democracy would be adhered to.

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Al-Ahram quoted the diplomat as saying that a drop in the level of violence may temper any statement by the EU. The unnamed diplomat also reportedly added that "the reassuring messages" emanating from Egypt would "help reduce the level of EU apprehension." 

EU foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss how to pressure Egypt's army-backed rulers into finding a peaceful compromise with supporters of Morsi.

Several EU governments have said in recent days that Europe should scale back its financial aid to Cairo, but some are reluctant to take steps that may have a deeper impact on the population than on the government, diplomats said.

At stake could be a 5-billion euro ($6.7 billion) package of grants and loans promised by the European Union, its member governments and international financial institutions last year, as well as various trade incentives.

Senior diplomats meeting in Brussels on Monday did not make specific proposals ahead of Wednesday's talks, diplomats said.

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The EU's ability to exert immediate economic pressure on Cairo is limited - much of its aid has been already stopped because of inadequate democratic reforms.

But the hope is that some further reduction in aid could help end a bloody crackdown by the government against Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, and prevent further bloodshed between the two sides.

The EU was quick to express its dismay over the violence of last week, saying in a statement Sunday that it would review its relationship with Egypt in the coming days.

In a statement, the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso called on all sides in Egypt to show restraint and prevent further escalation of the violence.

The United States also expressed its displeasure at the events in Egypt, cancelling a joint military drill and issuing a statement by President Barack Obama stating that, for as long as civilians are being shot in Egypt's streets, "traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual."

While the streets of Egypt’s cities have been relatively calm since the weekend, the Sinai Peninsula continues to roil as Islamist terrorists seek to take advantage of the current turmoil. At least 24 policemen were killed Monday in an ambush close to the border with Gaza, reportedly prompting Cairo to declare a state of alert in the troubled Peninsula.

Reuters contributed to this report

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