Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, left Cairo after a two-day visit in which he discussed the situation in the country, bilateral relations, and other regional issues with interim President Adli Mansour.
In an interview with Reuters news agency on Wednesday, Timmermans said that diplomatic mediation failed to break Egypt’s political deadlock because the new leaders do not see any benefit in having discussions with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is something they will inevitably have to do in the end.
In reference to local media’s condemnation of foreign interference in Egyptian affairs, Timmermans said: “Regardless of whether there is foreign mediation or not, they must come to terms with the fact that they should hold talks with the Muslim Brotherhood. The sooner they do so, the better.”
Timmermans expressed his concern over a potential outbreak in violence. He said that it is clear that tension is mounting and that the increasing number of people protesting in the streets “will fuel the armed forces tendency to supress the people and this will surely escalate the situation.”
The foreign minister responded to a question on whether or not the European Union should suspend all foreign aid to the military-backed government by saying that very little EU support has been sent to Egypt recently due to the country’s failure to comply with the standards of the International Monetary Fund.
“They need tourists to return and for international investments to resume; however, I do not see that happening anytime soon if they continue in this vein”, Timmermans said.
Timmermans also said it is difficult to imagine how other Arab countries will succeed in their transition towards democracy if Egypt fails.
“What I believe is occurring in Egypt is a spontaneous and uncalculated reaction in some parts of the political system. This is fuelled by the people’s nostalgia for the past, not just their nostalgia for military, but also for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood may feel more comfortable if they return to their traditional role, not by working within the political framework, but outside of it.”