CERCLE DIPLOMATIQUE - issue 01/2016

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CD is an independent and impartial magazine and is the medium of communication between foreign representatives of international and UN-organisations based in Vienna and the Austrian political classes, business, culture and tourism. CD features up-to-date information about and for the diplomatic corps, international organisations, society, politics, business, tourism, fashion and culture. Furthermore CD introduces the new ambassadors in Austria and informs about designations, awards and top-events. Interviews with leading personalities, country reports from all over the world and the presentation of Austria as a host country complement the wide range oft he magazine.

LE MONDE EGYPT | INTERVIEW

H.E. Khaled Abdel-Rahman Shamaa

“Egypt is moving into a stable and progressive phase.“

H.E. Khaled Shamaa, the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Austria, outlines the path of his

country towards more economic growth and the range of new security measures already implemented.

Interview: Rainer Himmelfreundpointner

KHALED ABDEL-RAHMAN SHAMAA

PHOTO: RALPH MANFREDA

Anyone having the privilege of

visiting the Egyptian Embassy in

Vienna‘s 19th district, immediately

feels the joys of some gentle breath of

history, as if the spirits of ancient pharaos

would still be around in what is one of the

most beautiful Embassy buildings of the

city. When Khaled Shamaa, the Ambassador

of the Arab Republic of Egypt to

Austria, sat down with „Cercle Diplomatique“

for an exclusive interview in early

February 2016, he therefore first embarked

on the deep historic ties between Egypt

and Austria. The first major cultural and

technological exchange took place in the

middle of the 19th century, when the

Austrian engineer Alois Negrelli took part

in the plannings of the Suez Canal, which

were inaugurated on 17 November1869,

with a high level celebration which

Austrian Emporer Franz Joseph I. payed

his visit. ”That was more or less the first

high level visit of state“, Khaled reports.

After World War II, many Egyptians

started to study at Austrian Universities

which led to the formation of a large

Egyptian community in Austria, up to

nearly 150,000 Austrian tourists visiting

Egypt last year, and strong economic

relations. In the light of the recent political

developments in Egypt, this aspect is

gaining more and more importance, the

Ambassador points out in the interview.

In his opening statement he starts with a

roundup of Egypt‘s current political

constitution.

CD: Your Excellency, can you please share with us

your view about the state of Egypt and its

political framework five years after the revolution,

also known as the ”Arab Spring“?

KHALED SHAMAA: These last few years

were quite turbulent, during which Egypt

has witnessed two revolutions in 2011 and

in 2013. But we are now moving on, not

only into a stable but also into a progressive

phase.

For the first time we have a constitution

that has been elaborated extensively by leading

Egyptian figures from all works of life,

which has been approved by a national referendum

and that was lately followed by

Parliamentary elections.

The new Parliament has historically the

highest representation of women, Copts,

and intellectuals. Therefore, it could be

considered a true representative of the people

of Egypt.

So things are moving in the right direction.

But that does not mean that there are

no challenges ahead.

Thanks to its high birth rate, Egypt is growing by

some two million people each year. Can the

economy provide enough jobs for your expanding

population?

The economy is one of our main challenges.

We need more jobs, education,

healthcare and housing. To address this issue,

Egypt has launched several development

projects – some are mega-projects,

many others are platforms for small and

medium enterprises – in agricultural, energy,

infrastructure and housing among

others.

Several Austrian companies have participated

or are planning to participate in

such projects, including in renewable energy

and water management systems, with

several Memorandums of Understanding

for cooperation already concluded, including

the leading Austrian company Kapsch.

Funding for such investment projects

has been secured through cooperation

with many partners including the Gulf states,

China, India, Germany, UK and many

partners, and also from private investments.

As a matter of fact one of the major investment

projects that was completed recently,

namely the expansion of the Suez

Canal, was totally funded by Egyptians.

And as for the economic activities with the

European Union, which is Egypt‘s main trade

partner, counting for more than 30 percent of

trade volume? How would you judge the

developments in this regard?

There are already a lot of big investments,

mainly in the energy sector, which

is among the fastest growing sectors in

Egypt. There are substantial investments in

the exploration and development of oil

fields from the Italian giant ENI, following

a major discovery of gas fields in the Mediterranean.

From Siemens we have a deal to

construct twelve power stations.

All of these will also provide value addition

in terms of training and education,

which further contribute to the economy at

large.

Can you give us some examples of Austrian

companies active in Egypt, since our trade volume

of some 300 million Euros seems to have catched

up lately?

Well, apart from Kapsch, Frequentis,

Fabasoft, Vamed, Siemens Austria and

many other Austrian Companies that are

or have been doing business and investment

in Egypt, we have had an increased

exchange of business delegations between

the two countries. We had a visit by a delegation

from the Egyptian Federation of Industries

in February of last year, and just

recently a business delegation organised by

the Austrian Chamber of Commerce has

just completed a visit to Egypt.

In all our business and technical cooperation

with Austria, we emphasise also the

value addition to our transactions, namely

the necessary technology transfer, but also

The Egyptian Ambassador Extraordinary and

Plenipotentiary to Austria and Permanent Representative

to the International Organisations in Vienna

(since 2011), holds a Master of International Affairs

from George Washington University.

34 Cercle Diplomatique 1/2016

Cercle Diplomatique 1/2016

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