From Egypt, German FM Says Human Rights Key for Arms Sales
By: Ahmed Fathi
CAIRO, Egypt – Germany's top diplomat said on Saturday that human rights considerations will guide her incoming government's worldwide arms sales, including to Egypt, a significant importer of German munitions. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters that a measure being submitted this year will also establish limits to ensure that weapons are not sold to crisis-stricken areas except in extraordinary situations and with justification, the AP reported.
"The human rights situation already plays an important role here," she said, adding that "this will also have repercussions for countries that have been major recipients of German arms exports in the past." She did not elaborate on the mechanisms by which this determination will be made.
Baerbock addressed a news conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, following a meeting with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. She stated that she discussed the state of human rights and civil society during her discussions but provided no other specifics.
Egypt's government has undertaken a broad crackdown on dissent in recent years, imprisoning thousands of people, mostly Islamists but also secular activists who participated in the 2011 Arab Spring movement that toppled Egypt's long-serving ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt's defense, Foreign Minister Shoukry stated, is critical for Europe, particularly in limiting migration to Europe across the Mediterranean. Since 2016, the Egyptian navy has taken steps to prevent the launch of such migrant boats bound for Europe, a measure he described as "critical for our European partners."
Egypt, he added, will simply seek alternative sources of armament if Germany decides to restrict arms supplies to it.
Germany shipped weapons worth a record 9.35 billion euros ($10.65 billion) last year, with about 4.3 billion euros going to Egypt, primarily for maritime and air defense weapons. The majority of that was authorized by former Chancellor Angela Merkel's German government.