In the light of current challenges, the African Union’s (AU) top priority in 2019 is to promote regional economic integration, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said before the 55th Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Saturday.
At the beginning of his speech, Al-Sisi highlighted that the conference comes amid “increasing and complicated challenges and risks in the African continent, including tension and conflict at the international level and spread of terrorism and extremism.
Al-Sisi, who assumed last week the presidency of AU, talked about challenges facing the union and plans to eliminate them, as well as the refugee and illegal migration issues and the Palestinian cause.
The president said that the economic development in Africa requires increasing investment in the field of infrastructure and facilitating intra-trade movement by accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), while continuing to develop sustainable development programmes and plans within the framework of Africa’s 2063 Agenda.
He also pointed that one of the priorities of AU member countries, while being on the threshold of ‘Silencing the Guns” in 2020, is the reconstruction and development in the post-conflict areas, explaining that this will enable stability across the continent and building and empowerment of national state institutions.
Egypt is working with the African Union Commission to launch the African Union Center for Reconstruction and Development, which will be hosted by Cairo, Al-Sisi noted.
Regarding regional issues, he said the failure to resolve the Palestinian cause is the main source of instability in the Middle East, being the oldest political conflict in the region, and there must be real concerted efforts of the international community to put an end to this conflict.
Also, Al-Sisi pointed out that the security situation in Libya requires everyone to support the political solution and state institutions, including the military, to recover and unite.
As for counter-terrorism, “We should join forces to eliminate terrorism, not only from the security aspect, but also through political, social, cultural, and religious aspects, which we have already requested previously during the development of the religious discourse,” Al-Sisi noted.
Moreover, the president reviewed Egyptian efforts in the field of combating illegal migration, saying that Egypt has succeeded to thwart several illegal migration attempts since 2016, through coordination with several European countries and that the country already hosts millions of refugees, stressing that they are not living in refugee camps or centres.
Al-Sisi was the first non-European president to deliver a speech in the MSC since its establishment in 1963.
On the sidelines of the MSC 2019, Al-Sisi met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They discussed increasing German investments in Egypt, migration issues, combating terrorism, and international and regional issues of mutual concern as well as issues related to the African continent.
They also tackled the updates of Libyan and Syrian situations, stressing the importance of supporting the efforts of the UN envoys in both countries.