Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on 19 February. The meeting of the heads of state is taking place in Al-Ittihadiya Palace, Egypt’s official presidential headquarters.
The talks started with an official welcoming ceremony. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi greeted Aleksandr Lukashenko at the entrance to the palace. After the national anthems were sung and the silent drill platoon performed, the presidents embarked on one-on-one talks to be later joined by members of their delegations.
The sides drew special attention to the trade and economic ties, development of industrial cooperation. Belarus sees promise in innovations, advanced technology, science, and education. “This is why we prioritize promotion of high-tech products in Egypt and establishment of joint ventures. This approach has already proven effective.
“Belarus and Egypt are close partners. We have great prospects. Lately we have advanced our cooperation greatly. It is facilitated by a constant dialogue between Minsk and Cairo. There are no closed topics, the [Egyptian] President and I always fully and sincerely discuss all matters. Today’s talks were also like that,” Aleksandr Lukashenko told reporters after the meeting with his Egyptian counterpart. “I am happy to note that our agreements on cooperation in this field are being implemented: both Belarus and Egypt put a lot of effort into it,” the Belarusian head of state added.
In his words, the countries already cooperate in manufacturing, the military and technical field, agriculture, science, and humanitarian affairs. Bilateral industrial cooperation began with projects to set up assembly plants in Egypt. They produce machines and equipment of the Belarusian automobile engineering company MAZ and tractor manufacturer MTZ. Plans are in place to launch the production of machines of Belarus’ Bobruiskagromash and Amkodor, engines of Minsk Motor Plant.
“I am convinced that the development of industrial cooperation goes fully in step with the interests of the two countries and helps get access to markets of Egypt’s neighboring African countries, which is very important to us. I hope we will be able to satisfy the needs of the whole 100-million Egyptian market. From Cairo we work together practically for the whole of Africa. We are also looking into options to tap into more markets of the continent together,” the head of state remarked.
The President believes that cooperation in security and information technology, including modern public security systems, holds a lot of promise. Belarus is ready to supply the most advanced medical equipment and food products to Egypt.
Belarus is interested in participating in the establishment of the Suez Canal Economic Zone. The sides drew special attention to this matter during the talks.
“Belarus is strongly interested in the participation in large-scale projects initiated by the Egyptian leadership, primarily in the creation of the special export-oriented economic zone of the Suez Canal,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
At the meeting with mass media representatives the Belarusian President welcomed Egypt’s initiative to open an embassy in Minsk. “We will provide all kinds of assistance and treat Egypt as our closest ally,” the head of state said.
In his words, Belarus and Egypt hold the same views on the main issues of the international agenda. “We advocate peaceful settlement of regional conflicts. We are against all kinds of hybrid wars and orchestrated destabilization of the situation in various countries,” the President said.
The head of state underlined that Belarus condemns any manifestations of terrorism and absolutely supports Egypt’s efforts to stand against this threat. “We are fully aware of the role Egypt plays in the fight against terrorism and the contribution it has made to combating terrorism,” he added.
Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that the two countries will be able to take bilateral cooperation to a brand-new level. “You are always welcome in Belarus. People of Belarus know you well, respect you and will always be glad to see you in the center of Europe, the same way as you treat us here,” the President said.
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in turn, said that Egypt together with Belarus intends to access the Eurasian and African markets with products of joint ventures. “The location of Egypt and Belarus on the international map will help open new markets for Egyptian and Belarusian products in the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Arab world, and African countries,” the Egyptian President is convinced. He believes that setting up a free trade area in Africa and the signing of an appropriate agreement between Egypt and the EAEU will facilitate this process.
After the talks the two leaders exchanged gifts. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi presented an Egyptian sword as a gift to the Belarusian President. The Belarusian head of state was told the sword’s handle is made of rare African wood inlaid with copper. The Belarusian head of state gifted a copy of the Koran to his Egyptian counterpart. Another unusual gift was a photo of Aleksandr Lukashenko and Fedi Khalil, an employee of Svetlogorsk Pulp and Board Mill. The Egyptian has lived with his family in Belarus for about seven years already. Aleksandr Lukashenko made acquaintance with Fedi Khalil during a recent visit to the enterprise.
Following the talks in Cairo the two countries signed a set of documents. The documents include the intergovernmental executive program of cooperation in higher education and the agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters.
The Foreign Ministries signed a memorandum of cooperation. It involves setting up a joint high-level commission on bilateral cooperation and political dialogue between Belarus and Egypt at the level of foreign ministers. A memorandum of cooperation was also signed by the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus and the Central Bank of Egypt.