Monday, March 18, 2013

Ahead of India visit, Morsy pitches for ‘E-BRICS’

CAIRO, March 18, 2013

Confident of navigating his country' s post-revolution transition, Egypt's first elected President Mohamed Morsy arrives in India on Monday to anchor a special relationship and flag his country's ambition of joining the ranks of the world's "emerging countries."

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu ahead of his first visit to India in his imposing presidential office in Cairo's upscale Heliopolis district, Mr. Morsy visualised a "true partnership" with New Delhi that would boost the revival of Egypt's economy, reinforce its security and institutionalise its fledgling democracy. "I am looking forward to a unique, strong, institutional and mutually beneficial relationship with India. For Indians, we can be a hub for North Africa and Africa as well," the President said.

Mr. Morsy expressed Egypt's deep interest in joining the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) combine and turning the grouping into E-BRICS. "I am hoping BRICS would one day become E-BRICS where E stands for Egypt. I hope E-BRICS would emerge when we start moving the economy." He lauded the proposal for the establishment of a BRICS bank that would "support countries to achieve high growth rates and supplement the role of the IMF, World Bank and similar institutions."

The Egyptian President expressed his strong opposition to the existence of a "unipolar world" and supported a stronger role for the Non Aligned Movement in order to "impart crucial balance and ensure comprehensive peace in today's world." "We cannot have a single pole dominating the world. NAM can be very effective in this regard, and I am going to test this with the leaders of India."

Mr. Morsy acknowledged that he foresaw China playing an important role in the development of heavy industry in Egypt, while India fitted prominently into Cairo's plans to develop Information Technology (IT), small and medium enterprises as well as a national defence industry. The President said that Egypt wanted to establish a "unique relationship" with India in the area of defence as "in military industry also, India is quite advanced". He identified military navigation, electronics and maintenance as some priority areas of interest.

The Egyptian President, who has ideological roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, rejected the notion of the existence of a sectarian Sunni-Shia conflict in West Asia. He said Egypt was ideally positioned to play a major diplomatic role in defusing tensions in the region, as Cairo enjoyed cordial relations with the Gulf countries as well as Iran. Mr. Morsy added that "as a pioneer of the moderation in Islam," Al Azhar University, which "has an outreach [in] many countries," was a key institution capable of playing a significant conciliatory role among adversarial parties.
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