Catherine Ashton expressed the European Union’s support for Egypt ahead of the constitutional referendum but expressed concern over continued incidents of violence. She condemned terrorist attacks and what she described as “heavy-handed responses.”
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said in a statement on Saturday, “the constitutional process – both before and following the referendum – could offer a chance for a political dialogue and interaction leading to democratic elections.” She added that there is potential for this to lead to a representative parliament, “accountability for the government and state institutions, and greater security and prosperity for all.”
Meanwhile the head of the EU delegation to Egypt, James Moran, stressed on Sunday that the constitutional referendum is the “first stage” in leading to a potential dialogue. “We must wait and see how the vote progresses and the circumstances surrounding the vote, the outcome… [and] we have to see how that reflects the will of the Egyptian people,” Moran said. “It is a process… we are not making a judgment. What we are doing here is looking forward… our objective is to see this country succeed in regaining stability, to succeed in regaining democracy and above all to succeed in regaining a level of prosperity.”
Ashton “unequivocally condemned terrorist attacks against Egypt and its people.” She added that the EU would continue to offer its “full support” to Egypt in light of recent attacks. The EU foreign policy chief also said, “heavy handed responses to the present crisis will not help in securing Egypt’s future and can hamper seriously the freedoms of expression and association.”
The EU has kept a close eye on events in Egypt since the 25 January Revolution in 2011. In the summer of 2013 Ashton visited Egypt in an attempt to facilitate a dialogue between the interim government and the supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi. In July she was the first foreign diplomat to meet with Morsi while he was held in a classified location by the armed forces.
Moran highlighted on Sunday that the EU continues to support Egypt’s transition and denied reports of any cut in aid.
In August the EU Foreign Affairs Council decided to revoke export licenses for equipment that could be “used for internal repression” in Egypt.