CAIRO, November 26. /TASS/. Russian Ambassador to Egypt Georgy Borisenko has issued an open letter to the Egyptian daily Al-Shorouq to respond to a critical article by its editor-in-chief Emad El Deen Hussein entitled A New Pause with the Russian Friend.
The open letter was posted on the Russian embassy’s Facebook account on Wednesday.
According to the Russian diplomat, the article "openly charged with criticism against Russia" blames Moscow for delays in resuming chartered air service between the two countries. But, in his words, Moscow cannot ignore the major objective reasons, namely due security precautions at Egyptian airports and the issue of compensations to the families of the victims of the terror attack that has not yet been settled.
Air service between Egypt and Russia was suspended in November 2015 following a terror attack onboard a Russian Kogalymavia flight that was on its way from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg on October 31, 2015. A bomb went off onboard the plane minutes after the takeoff, killing 217 passengers, including 25 children, and seven crewmembers.
"The tragedy in the sky over the Sinai peninsula killed the biggest number of Russian nationals in the entire history of global aviation and was the biggest air crash in Egypt. And, naturally, following this tragic accident Russia could not continue air service with Egypt without guarantees of strict security precautions at its airports," the Russian ambassador noted.
He recalled that thanks to the joint efforts of the two countries’ relevant agencies Egypt had managed to considerably improve security at Cairo’s airport and air service between the two countries’ capitals was resumed in April 2018.
"Of course, we highly estimate the large-scale work done by the Egyptian side to improve security systems at airport terminals, which makes it possible for Russia to loo at resuming flights to Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh," Borisenko said. "But we cannot ignore the risks for our nationals in conditions of the general situation in the Middle East. Because it is about human lives for us rather than about financial revenues."
Apart from that, in his words, the issue of compensations to the families of the terror attack victims has not yet been settled. "The families of the crash victims demand the Russian government and the foreign ministry stop all flight to Egypt," he said. "They are citizens of our country and the Russian authorities cannot ignore their position."
"Obviously, such factors force Russia to analyze the situation more thoroughly," the diplomat stressed. "Nevertheless, we hope that chartered flights to Egypt will be resumed in the foreseeable future as millions of Russian tourists who are in love with you beautiful country are waiting for it."
In his column on November 14, Emad El Deen Hussein suggested his country take a pause in its relations with Russia to analyze these relations "to make sure they are developing well, as they should between friends."
He expressed surprise that Russia keeps on demanding Cairo recognize the fact of a terror attack and bring to answer those responsible for it. "No one challenges Russia’s right to defense its interests but it is important to reckon with Egypt’s interests as well, he noted, adding that Russia demands too much in many areas thus sending a negative signal to the Egyptians. He warned of possible losses for Russia when Egypt manages to diversify its sources of incomes from tourism.