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FMs of 28 EU countries to consider reducing aid to Egypt

August 21, 2013, 3:07 UTC+3

Discussion will refer, in particular, to a revision of European programmes for aid to Egypt in the 2012-2014 period

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BRUSSELS, August 21 (Itar-Tass) - The Foreign ministers of the European Union gather here on Wednesday for a special meeting on Egypt in order to fix the community's unified position on the situation in that country.

"The Ministers will consider possiblities for EU assistance in normalizing the situation in Egypt," poins out the European Commission's brief announcement circulated on Tuesday.

The forthcoming talks are expected to be no-easy ones, for EU countries concur only on their striving to promote an end to violence in Egypt. However, acute differences persist over estimates of the causes of the violence there and over plans for possible actions.

Discussion will refer, in particular, to a revision of European programmes for aid to Egypt in the 2012-2014 period. The aid programmes' aggregate amount totals 5 billion euros. Specifically, France with an active support of Denmark suggests freezing the programmes until the interim government of Egypt "returns to the road of democracy" and start direct preparations for a new election.

At the same time, a number of EU countries come out against reducing of freezing the aid programmes. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, in particular, earlier stated that a suspension of European aid would only deliver a blow on the poorest sections of the population and would weaken the civil society organizations which the EU seeks to help.

Yet another possible option for actions -- to impose an embargo on the supply of weapons to Egypt -- was suggested by Germany which already introduced a one-sided moratorium on the delivery of weapons and special police equipment to Egypt. Similar temporary bans have been already imposed by now by France, Britain, and Italy. However, an all-European decision on that score is lacking so far.

According to Itar-Tass sources, the Ministers will consider "the possibility of a temporary ban on the deliveries of dual-use arms and hardware which can be used for internal repressions" there.

Many European diplomats do not rule it out that at the meeting no specific measures will be adopted and that only a "strong and unanimous statement will be made by all EU members expresssing condemnation of violence in Egypt". Their logic is that the very fact of the holding of an EU urgent ministerial meeting in August "is alreayd a sufficiently strong political signal to the authorities of Egypt". This is undoubtedly so to the Egyptian authorities because practically all European ministers and, consequently, most of subordinate diplomats have to interrupt their summer holidays in order to organize this meeting.

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