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Messages via Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Summary: AN insightful look into a meeting on Saturday between President Morsi and the board of trustees of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina would unveil some highly significant messages to all whom the present situation in Egypt may concern.

By hosting the event at the presidential headquarters at a time when the administration is in the midst of heated debates on many aspects of domestic politics and also at a time of strenuous and incessant undertakings to put up the national economy in better shape, the message was clear that the ongoing political transition is part of the country's abounding history. In this context, came the President's allusion to the link between the drive now under way to build a democratic, civic polity and the nation's long and established contribution to the promotion of enlightenment and knowledge.

Of relevance to this context was his reference to thousands of years of history of Egypt as a converging venue for Heavenly messages, a land for co-existence between various groups and a fertile ground for the thriving of human knowledge.

With the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, unquestionably symbolising the rich cultural fabric and political diversity of the Egyptian society, the tribute paid by the President to the institution's concept and output can be read as an expression of profound acknowledgement of the revered socio-cultural heritage of Egypt. Tied to this point was his renewed assertion that all forms of discrimination are rejected, be they based on gender, colour or religion. In a more emphatic note, Dr. Morsi told the Bibliotheca Alexandrina directors that "all Egyptian citizens are equal before the law and that no assaults on houses of worship will ever be condoned". Combined, all such remarks at such a meeting reflected the socio-political orientation of the evolving civic and democratic polity of post-Revolution Egypt.

Just one day after that meeting, Foreign Minister M. K. Amr sounded equally emphatic about Cairo's perception of the influence of geopolitical and historical factors on the shaping of the country's international relations. In statements of the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayyat newspaper on Sunday, Minister Amr explicitly set forth the thesis that the concerns and pressures of the transitional stage have in no way induced Egypt to distance itself from its duty-bound responsibilities at both regional and international levels. "Egypt is a respectful state that respects its signatures and international obligations," was the Foreign Minister's reaction to a question on the future of the Peace Treaty with Israel ( Elaborating on this policy position, Minister Amr explained that "there is a peace accord (signed) between us and Israel; and we stand to respect it so long as the other party does".

The bloody strife in Syria provides yet another clear-cut case of Cairo's unshaken commitment to honouring its regional and international responsibilities even at this time of the political strains and economic hardships that have been associated with the democratic transition.

As Morsi is readying to travel to Moscow later this week for two days of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kremlin officials aimed at bolstering trade and economic relations, there have reports that the Syrian crisis would figure high on the agenda of talks in Moscow. And just the other day, the President conferred with the international envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, apparently for a direct review of the latest developments in the Syrian dossier. Concurrent press reports suggested that Egypt may be reconsidering its earlier initiated 'quartet' on Syria with a view to broadening its composition. So far, the quartet groups Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, in addition to Egypt. A re-formed or enlarged mechanism to seriously approach a halt to bloodshed in Syria would certainly require much more time, political thrust and perseverance. Despite the intricate dictates and requirements of the tough political transition, Egypt is showing all willingness to pursue its regional and international responsibilities.

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Date:Apr 16, 2013
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