Egypt: an important partner in the Middle East and North Africa | Ministries

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Blog entry | 08-19-2022 | Get to know our ambassadors and their work

The Netherlands and Egypt enjoy a long-standing and strong relationship. In addition to cooperation in the field of food security and water consumption, the focus is also on gender. Our Dutch Ambassador to Egypt, Han Moritz Chapfield, is the European Union Champion for Gender Equality. An important role with a focus on improving the status and conditions of women. “Important steps are being taken in this regard. For the first time, women have been appointed to the judiciary.

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What topics do the Netherlands and Egypt work together on?

“We have worked with the Egyptians on a wide range of topics for a long time. The Netherlands is known here for its expertise in the field of water. This is expressed through cooperation in food security, water consumption and irrigation, for example around the Nile, where 98% of the water that comes from Egypt uses it.At the same time, on the development side, we’re working on gender, sexual and reproductive rights, and the discussion about significant population growth.

In addition, we work together in the field of commerce. Exports are made from Holland and we want to increase that, but we are also trying to encourage more and more investments here. Finally, we have a cultural cooperation aimed at preserving cultural heritage. For example, by showing how you can make a historical exhibition as interesting and worth visiting as possible.

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Ambassador Han Moritz Chapfield visits an agricultural project in southern Egypt.

Is there political cooperation as well?

‘Yes, of course. Together with Egypt, we are looking at what our contribution to the Middle East peace process could be. Egypt plays a very important role between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Egypt also partially borders Gaza. This issue plays a major role here.

In addition, neighboring Libya is a problem area in the region. Egypt also has an interest in stability in that country. The same goes for the core countries, Sudan and Ethiopia. It is very chaotic in the region, where the stability of Egypt is important. We try to contribute to this by fighting poverty and promoting human rights. Fortunately, Egypt has now designed a human rights strategy that will play a major role.

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Orange Corners is a Dutch initiative that provides training for young entrepreneurs, networks and facilities to start and grow innovative businesses.

How do you commit to gender equality?

In a number of developing countries, especially Bolivia and Burkina Faso, I have always been the president of the Gender Club of Donors. This was partly because of our own policy, but mainly because of a personal interest in topics such as female circumcision (FGM), child marriage and Women’s Empowerment. A few years ago, agreements were made within the European Union on: European sex champions. These are the representatives of the European Union who place special emphasis on gender and also use it to improve the status and conditions of women.

After my Swedish predecessor passed away, I wanted to take on this important role. We try to highlight substantive programs and see how we can take steps. For example, for the first time women were appointed to the judiciary and institutions were created for this. The president of Egypt was clear about the role of women. Previously, he only spoke of women in the context of our mothers and daughters. Today, he calls women our “partners in development”. He really does his best for it.

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Climate envoy Jaime de Bourbon de Parme is visiting Egypt in the run-up to COP27.

The UN Climate Summit COP27 will be held in Egypt this year. what does that mean?

“The COP has a substantive and organizational aspect. As an embassy, ​​we will be particularly involved in the organizational aspect. Of course Prime Minister Rutte will not come alone, but with a number of ministers and their delegation. There is a huge challenge. It will not take place in Cairo, but in Sharm el-Sheikh, across the Red Sea.

It is the first climate summit in North Africa. Egypt truly considers itself an African country in this COP. So they will also pay attention to climate action funding. The previous climate summit in Glasgow was mainly about how to combat climate change and emissions. At COP 27, the focus will be more on how we deal with climate change: mitigation and adaptation. Holland has been thinking about adapting for some time. For example, in 2021 we organized the Climate Adaptation Summit. So there are definitely opportunities for us and we will do our best to present Holland in a good way.

What is the importance of the Middle East and North Africa region for the Netherlands and what is the role of Egypt in this?

The Middle East and North Africa region is characterized by many problems, for example the wars in Yemen, Libya and Syria and the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. It is an unstable region where there is always something going on and where stable Egypt plays an important role among the various large nations in the vicinity. Egypt itself is also considering what it could mean between Europe, the United States, and China.

We have a long-term and strong relationship with Egypt and we cooperate in various topics, especially water and trade. We also work together a lot in a European context. I will do my best not only to increase Dutch investment in Egypt, but also to further strengthen political cooperation between the two countries.

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