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 Full text 
Thursday, 16 February 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Egypt: recent developments (debate)

  Rui Tavares, author. (PT) Mr President, in Egypt, the military is the supreme authority and is seeking to keep control of the power that it still has, whilst having already established the compromises of the future through a curious choreography with the ascendant power: the Muslim Brotherhood. Both are using fear of chaos, vandalism and Salafi fundamentalism to establish themselves as the main players, to make Egypt’s situation synonymous with their situation, and to present themselves as the guarantors of order.

Let us not forget, too, that the army is currently a major beneficiary of the status quo, as it already was in the time of Mubarak. The army controls the majority of the Egyptian economy and has used the transition to control even more, by getting rid of certain competitors within Mubarak’s clique itself. The Emergency Law has not been completely lifted. Accusations of vandalism are being used cynically to arrest bloggers, along with young activists from civil society movements and small leftist groups. We know that no transition takes place instantaneously, but I have to say that the European debate about the Egyptian transition is depressing. It is crystallising as being between those who think that nothing needs to be done because the Arab Spring has already happened and that it is now the Arabs’ problem not ours, and those who think that nothing can now be done because the Arab Winter is here and we have no way of pressuring Egypt. We clearly have many ways of pressuring Egypt. We should say to the army and the Muslim Brotherhood that they should establish the beginnings of law and order, but for everyone in Egypt. However, we also need – I am concluding, Mr President – to do something else: if Europe is really concerned about politically liberal sectors, about Christians, about minorities and about young people, it should open up its thinking and its doors to the other side of the Mediterranean much more than it has been doing so far.

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