Foreign minister Stef Blok meets Egyptian counterpart

Foreign minister Stef Blok has visited Cairo to meet his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, and hold the first bilateral talks of their kind in five years.Foreign minister Stef Blok has visited Cairo to meet his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, and hold the first bilateral talks of their kind in five years.

The Netherlands seeks constructive and open contact with Egypt so that it can discuss matters of mutual interest and matters where the two nations’ interests differ.

As one of the largest countries on Europe’s southern border, Egypt’s stability is important to Europe and the Netherlands. Mr Blok is positive about the significant economic reforms the country has carried out in recent years. ‘Reform leads to economic growth,’ he commented. ‘It’s good for employment and offers opportunities to Dutch businesses. The Netherlands wants to help Egypt grow and will invest more in the development of the private sector and employment in the years ahead.’

Cooperation will also be strengthened in the fields of water management and agriculture to help Egypt tackle the growing water scarcity and climate change. The two ministers further discussed Egypt’s role in the region with regard to migration, Libya and the Middle East peace process.

Mr Blok discussed freedom of expression, press freedom and the limited freedom of civil society organisations in Egypt. Active citizens and NGOs are a precondition for a strong and stable country. Mr Blok spoke to a human rights lawyer and a representative of the political opposition during his visit.

In addition, Mr Blok met Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and discussed the position of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Ministry responsible