It seems that the European Union leaders were cautious in dealing the issue of assistance to Egypt. After making a fuss and voicing threats to halt aide to new authorities in Cairo following the upsurge of violence in the country and the recent heavy-handed operations of the Egyptian security forces that resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries, the EU stopped short of cutting off the aid and came out with mixed stands.
At the end of their extraordinary meeting held Wednesday in Brussels to look in the deteriorating situation in the most populous country in the Arab world, the EU foreign Affairs Council said Egypt remains “an important neighbor and partner”.
But besides this political rhetorical language, the EU leaders decided to suspend export licenses to Egypt for any equipment which might be used for internal repression, stressing that “assistance in the socioeconomic sector and support for civil society will continue” as usual to avoid negative impacts on the most vulnerable people, the first to feel the pain of any suspension of European aid.
As a sign that the EU is treading lightly in tackling the Egyptian political crisis, the foreign ministers of the Union renewed support to the Egyptian people in their quest for democracy, respect for human rights, social justice, economic prosperity and security.
They expressed deep concerns over the current events in Egypt and condemn all acts of violence and urged “all political parties to engage in a real and inclusive dialogue and to restore the democratic process”, affirming that political reconciliation and working together is the right solution to the Egyptian crisis.
The EU response was criticized by both supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and the interim government installed by the Egyptian army. The Muslim brothers said they were disappointed by the European “timid” response to the carnage and mass killings of protesters. The Egyptian authorities minimized the impact of the measures enforced by the EU, saying all attempts to meddle in the country’s domestic affairs and all the pressure exerted by some foreign countries to serve their own agenda will not succeed. However, some experts insist that “One should never under-estimate the impact of soft-power”. But only time will tell who is wrong or right !