January 15, 2015 – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today concluded his visit to Egypt, during which he met with Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Mohammed Ahmed El-Tayyib, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque.
“Canada believes that a moderate, democratic and prosperous Egypt will be key to the success of the region, especially at a time of growing regional and security challenges,” said Baird.
This is the second visit Minister Baird has made to Egypt within the last year, with the aim of advancing Canadian foreign policy interests and supporting social and economic development. It also provides the opportunity to again raise consular issues, particularly concerning the journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
“We have had good discussions with the government on this case, and we are working toward seeing a constructive resolution,” said Baird.
“We also recognize the important role played by Egypt as a seat of moderate Islamic scholarship and a centre of Eastern Christianity,” Baird said. “The protection of religious freedom is essential to maintaining that role.”
Baird reaffirmed Canada’s support for Egypt’s continued transition to democracy ahead of the legislative elections in March and announced several initiatives to encourage stability, security and economic growth. While in Luxor, he also announced support for economic growth and the economic empowerment of women and youth.
For more information, please consult Baird Visits Egypt.
A backgrounder follows.
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Backgrounder – Initiatives to Promote Democracy, Security and Prosperity in Egypt
Strengthening Regional Security and Border Control
Canada has committed $2.1 million to promote regional security and stability in North Africa and the Middle East by improving border management between Egypt, Libya and Sudan. This project focuses on strengthening Egyptian law enforcement capacity and regional cooperation in order to prevent cross-border terrorism, trafficking in weapons and persons, and transnational crime. This project is undertaken in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Canada-Egypt-U.A.E. Police Collaboration
Canada is working closely with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) to develop a trilateral initiative to support the professionalization and skills development of Egyptian police forces. This will involve deploying Canadian police officers to Egypt, under the Canadian Police Arrangement, to deliver training and mentoring programs, as well as the participation of Egyptian officers in courses at the Canadian Police College in Ottawa, Ontario. Canada appreciates the U.A.E.’s partnership, including financial support, in this important strategic regional initiative.
Aswan Skills Development Program – Aga Khan Foundation Canada
Canada is providing $10.625 million to the Aga Khan Foundation Canada to implement the Aswan Skills Development Program in Egypt, in collaboration with Manitoba’s Red River College.
The project, which will help approximately 6,000 young women and men in the Aswan region, is designed to strengthen the quality and impact of vocational, technical and professional training programs. The initiative will focus on improving access to relevant job skills development and employment services for unemployed or underemployed youth. The project will seek to provide training in a number of areas, which may include both the tourism and electricity sectors.
Addressing Immediate Education Needs in Refugee-hosting Communities in Egypt – Save the Children Canada, Plan Canada and Care Canada
To deliver education support for vulnerable Egyptian and Syrian refugee children in Egypt, Canada will contribute $10 million over three years to three projects managed by Save the Children Canada, Plan Canada and Care Canada. These projects will help to improve access to quality formal and non-formal education in a protective learning environment for vulnerable school-aged girls and boys from Egypt and Syria.
Overall, the three projects will benefit more than 63,000 preschool and primary school-aged girls and boys (approximately 85 percent will be Egyptian and 15 percent, Syrian), over 31,000 Syrian and Egyptian parents and over 2,300 teachers, administrators and social workers.
School Feeding for Host Communities – World Food Programme
Canada will contribute $10 million over two years to support the World Food Programme’s School Feeding for Host Communities project in Egypt. The project aims to increase access to and retention in Egyptian public preschools and primary schools for more than 195,000 Syrian refugee children and their Egyptian peers.
The main activities of the project include:
- providing school feeding assistance to 339 schools in Alexandria and Damietta;
- improving school facilities to enhance the learning environments in targeted schools; and
- delivering community outreach and nutrition awareness training to children, their families and teachers at selected schools for Egyptian and Syrian children.
Canada Egypt Business Council and Canadian Business Councils of Abu Dhabi and Dubai MOU
Member companies of the Canada Egypt Business Council, Canadian Business Council Abu Dhabi and Canadian Business Council Dubai and Northern Emirates are agreeing to collaborate commercially. Emirati, Canadian and Egyptian businesses will jointly seek business projects in Egypt and the Emirates. This collaboration will be an important milestone in further materializing Canada-U.A.E. commercial collaboration in Egypt.
Suez Canal Authority – Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) MOU
Canada is supporting Egypt in its plans to build a new channel parallel to the Suez Canal to boost capacity of this global waterway linking Europe and Asia. The canal is a vital lifeline, generating considerable revenue for the Egyptian economy.
Strengthening Cooperation in the Petroleum, Petrochemicals and Mining Sectors
Canada and Egypt’s Ministry of Petroleum and Mining are agreeing to cooperate in Egypt’s oil and gas and mining sectors to help address energy needs, strengthen Egypt’s regulatory system and create jobs for Egyptians. Canada’s history demonstrates that the extractives sector can help build a country and contribute to its prosperity.
Strengthening Cooperation in the Supply, Storage and Distribution of Food Products
Canada is helping Egypt address its food security challenges. Using Canadian agriculture and agri-food expertise, Canada and Egypt will collaborate in several ways, including increasing bilateral trade of food items and setting up better storage and food distribution systems in Egypt.
MOU on Diplomatic Training
Through an MOU on diplomatic training, young (primarily) diplomats from Egypt and Canada will participate in specially designed training seminars and other similar information sessions. The aim is to expand mutual understanding of the priorities and best practices in place in Canada and Egypt, thereby facilitating broader linkages and improved understanding between the two foreign ministries and between Canadian and Egyptian diplomats.