Egypt’s Sisi calls for building a ‘democratic Syria’ in UN Speech

President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi speaks in the UN general assembly meeting (Photo: Al Ahram)

President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi speaks in the UN general assembly meeting (Photo: Al Ahram)

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for the building of a new “democratic Syria” in his speech at the UN general assembly meeting on Monday.

El-Sisi also said the Syria’s state structure must remain intact.

“We saw how the extremists exploited the legitimate Syrian people’s aspirations in order to achieve their aims and today Syria is almost torn apart and suffers the risk of division in light of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and the ambitions of regional parties,” El-Sisi said in his second speech as Egypt’s president at the general assembly.

“Egypt called on the Syrian national forces to meet in Cairo in order to agree upon a clear vision for the transitional period according to the Geneva Convention, so as to provide a common ground for all Syrians to build a democratic Syria, with sovereignty over its entire territory,” he added.

In 2015, Cairo hosted two meetings with Syria’s opposition and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held talks with Syrian opposition delegations to find a political solution to the conflict that would ensure the unity and independence of the country.

Egypt currently hosts a population of Syrian refugees, more than 140,000 of whom are registered with the UNHCR.

Egypt’s stance towards Bashar Al-Assad’s regime is neutral and it has never called on him to step down since turmoil started in Syria in March 2011.

El-Sisi said, “Egypt is hosting an increasing number of refugees. The Egyptian people share with them social, educational, and health services provided by the state, despite the economic burdens the country faces. Egypt hopes to find solutions to the refugee crisis, both in the long and short term.”

The UNHCR’s official website states that “While the [Egyptian] government grants some access to public primary health care and education, specialised public care for chronic illnesses and rehabilitative interventions is not available [for refugees].”

El-Sisi also blamed ‘the international community’ over the Libyan crisis and the spread of terrorism on its grounds, citing the incident that saw 20 Egyptian Christians killed by ISIS militants in Libya last January.

“Terrorism is a threat that endangers Libya’s neighboring countries and the rest of Africa, so I emphasise the need to pave the way for further engagement between the Libyans who believe in a modern state, in parallel with relentless efforts to eradicate terrorism,” he stated.

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