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Morsi's visit to Moscow...A turning point and balance in Egypt's policy

January 28, 2014 at 2:08 am

Balance and openness to new prospects of cooperation are the most prominent characteristics of Egypt’s post-revolution foreign policy and President Mohammad Morsi’s first term in office. Morsi has been seen heading east and west in an effort to build a network of relations for Egypt after deposed president, Hosni Mubarak, directed its compass exclusively towards the US and Europe affecting Egypt’s pivotal role in the Middle East.

Since he came to power almost 9 months ago, President Morsi has made a number of foreign visits to a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China, Iran, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Ethiopia and Germany. This has marked out Egypt’s new foreign policy as one that is based on balance and the establishment of relations and partnerships, with both eastern and western countries, founded on equality and mutual interests for both sides.

In this context, on Thursday evening, President Morsi will head to Moscow for a 2 day official visit on the invitation made by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during their meeting on the margins of the “BRICS” meeting in South Africa.

The Egyptians have high hopes for this visit, not only on account of its potential to contribute to the development of economic relations, but also because it offers an opportunity to touch on a number of important issues. This includes potential Russian support in resuming cooperation in peaceful nuclear projects, increasing the flow of Russian investments in a number of sectors and forming mutual cooperation agreements on gas and petroleum.

Alamat online makes the following observations about the expected outcome and hopes for this visit:

Strategic expert, Dr Ahmed Arafa, has stated that Cairo is really counting on this visit to strengthen its ties with Moscow, especially with the latter’s efforts to regain its power in the region in light of the difficulties it is facing with its most important ally in the region, Syria.

Arafa also added that in light of Egypt’s disappointment in America’s reduced support, especially regarding current negotiations with the IMF, Morsi is striving to send a message to the Obama administration regarding Egypt’s ability to open up to a number of influential international forces.

Meanwhile, economic expert, Ahmed Sami, stresses that President Morsi will use this visit to attempt to get President Putin to promise Egypt a number of deals regarding Russian wheat at preferential prices and facilitated payments. Particularly given that Cairo is having a hard time securing wheat deals with a number of countries who are demanding payment upfront which is currently difficult for Egypt.

Moreover, President Morsi’s discussions with Russian officials will also include signing a number of agreements and a memorandum of understanding regarding Egypt receiving large amounts of liquefied natural gas, natural gas and petroleum derivatives in an effort to address the electricity and fuel crisis expected next summer.

On his part, Dr Tarek Fahmy, an International Affairs Professor at Cairo University, states that Egypt has a lot riding on Morsi’s visit to Russia. He supports this statement with a statement made by Dr Essam Haddad, Presidential aide on foreign affairs, ensuring that the visit was well-prepared for and achieved positive results on an economic and political level.

He also considered the need for both countries to develop their economic and political relations as a reason for the accelerated measures taken to make this visit possible. He also pointed out that Cairo’s need for an economic vision in light of the lack of support from the West, the Americans and several Gulf States is what drove Cairo to re-explore relations with Moscow.

Fahmy also points out that the visit is considered a message to Washington and the Gulf States that Cairo is able to establish new relations with global forces that are able to make up for their reduced support for the economic revolution. Moreover, Russia’s critical role in the Syria crisis is what drove Cairo to take action to guarantee a peaceful solution that would end the bloodshed and preserve the unity of the country.

Whereas, Dr Issam al-Aryan, Deputy Leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, states that the world is not restricted to Europe and the US and Egypt is keen on having balanced relations with the world, as well as strengthening ties that were frozen or weakened following the October War when it betrayed countries that supported it until it liberated its land.

On his Twitter account, Al-Aryan also added that today, following Morsi’s visits to India and China, and the postponement of a visit to Brazil scheduled for September, he had received another invitation from Putin to visit Moscow.

Al-Aryan raised the question, “Will the cycle continue with visits to Russia, Brazil, and South Africa making Egypt a member of the world’s most important economic group?”

This visit is a clear indication of agreements with Russia in a number of fields and a clear message to Washington as a result of the decrease in American wheat production and the US Administration’s inability to help Egypt this year.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.