Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry announced on Saturday the start of dialogue on migration between Egypt and the European Union, within efforts to strengthen the EU-funded agreement to tackle the causes of illegal immigration.
In this regard, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi met with EU Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos. Discussions tackled Egypt's measures to combat illegal migration, which have contributed significantly to the reduction of trans-Mediterranean migration, as not a single case has been recorded in Egypt since 2016.
Ambassador Bassam Radi, spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, said that Sisi underlined his country's interest in promoting its relations with the EU in various fields, including the fight against illegal immigration.
He added that the elimination and control of this phenomenon would not be achieved solely through security measures, but by resolving existing crises and improving people's living standards, highlighting the EU's important role in this context.
Egypt reached an agreement with the EU in October to provide €60 million in non-refundable funding for a series of development projects to address the root causes of migration and to strengthen the national institutional capacity on migration issues and human trafficking, within the framework of the European Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
Radi quoted Avramopoulos as saying that Egypt was one of the most important EU partners in the Middle East.
"In light of Egypt's considerable regional weight, the European Union recognizes the role assumed by President Sisi in protecting the country from many disturbances, which in turn helped save the entire Middle East region, thus preserving the security of the Mediterranean and Europe," the EU commissioner said.
Shoukri and Avramopoulos agreed to "launch the first round of the Egyptian-European High-level Institutional Dialogue on Migration as the first forum for constructive interaction and exchange of experiences and visions between the two parties in this field."
"The meeting falls within the framework of rapprochement and the growing momentum in the relations between the two sides, especially after the Egyptian-European Council was held in Brussels in July, as well as successive visits of senior EU officials to Cairo, reflecting the increasing recognition of the strategic nature of the Egyptian-European partnership," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said.
Egyptian Ambassador to Brussels Khaled al-Baqali told Asharq Al-Awsat that cooperation between the two sides has already begun, highlighting EU assistance to create jobs in Egypt for the areas from which illegal immigration is exported.
On a different note, Sisi met on Saturday with French Defense Minister Florence Barley. The Egyptian presidency said the meeting focused on military and security cooperation, as well as the continuous coordination between the two sides on the challenges facing the Middle East.