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Deputy Prime Minister visits Egypt

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will visit Cairo today to meet Prime Minister Sharaf, business leaders and young political activists.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

On his first official visit to Egypt, Mr Clegg will reiterate the UK’s strong commitment to a long term partnership with Egypt, emphasise the need for a clear roadmap to democracy and announce a package of support to assist the democratic process and economic reform.

The package includes:

  • £5 million of UK funding for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to provide technical assistance and extend credit for small and medium sized enterprises.
  • More than £0.5 million to support balanced election media coverage, women candidates and an international presence during the elections.
  • Support to the Egyptian Higher Education sector to promote fora for political debate.
  • Support for apprenticeships and small business development training for 10,000 young Egyptians and Tunisians.

At a special town hall event in central Cairo with young political activists the Deputy Prime Minister will say:

“I met a number of you in London over the Summer, where I was struck by your passion and your ideals, but also by your grit and professionalism. I am delighted to be with you in Cairo today - the frontline of the Arab Spring.

“Egypt’s revolution - your revolution - was a triumph for peaceful protest. Not only have you changed the course of history for this great nation, but your successes have given heart to young men and women fighting for freedom and justice across North Africa and the Middle East, and across the world. You have landed a major victory for democracy and human rights. You have given dictators everywhere reason to fear.

“I know many of you are worried that the momentum for change in Egypt is being lost. So I want to make it crystal clear that the UK will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you as we work together to help Egypt complete this journey. The hopes and dreams that drove the revolution must be turned into a fair and plural politics, as well as a thriving economy that delivers opportunities for all.

“I will be meeting Prime Minister Sharaf later today, and I will make clear that the international community stands ready to provide the financial assistance needed to boost your economy and create jobs, and the UK will play its part. With UK businesses providing more investment to Egypt than any other nation - a staggering 70% - I make no apology for pointing out that our prosperity is linked to Egypt’s success too.

“But, like you, we want to see a clear and credible timetable for transition, along with a lifting of the harsh and outdated Emergency Law. Security must be restored to the streets. And Egyptians deserve clear guarantees on human rights including women’s rights. Citizens of all backgrounds and faiths must be assured of their place in Egypt’s future, and all minorities must be given proper protections under the law.

“Anyone who wants more democracy and less extremism in the world must see that Egypt is the best place to start. Where you lead, others will follow, and the UK is with you every step of the way.”

The Deputy Prime Minister gave his first speech about the Arab Spring in Brussels on 2 March entitled ‘Building Open Societies: Transforming Europe’s Partnership with North Africa.’ In the speech he said ‘we need genuine partnership of values with conditionality, a bold new European economic offer and a step-change in our fostering of political pluralism and open societies’.

In his speech on August 22 at the British Council the Deputy Prime Minister argued that ‘the Arab Spring is being driven by forces that will not go away: youth, technology, the need for economic reform…. supporting these movements is in the UK’s clear self-interest, because of our values, but also our security and prosperity too.

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Published 20 October 2011