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Douglas Alexander

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Europe Must Act Today on Egypt

Posted: 21/08/2013 00:00

As the violence in Egypt continues to unfold, the challenge today for the EU as its ministers gather in Brussels is how to help bring about an end to the chaos engulfing the country.

All available diplomatic levers must now be considered by the EU to try and end the bloodshed, and the UK foreign secretary, William Hague, must take a lead in pushing for a robust joint response from EU governments.

Whilst Europe's direct influence is limited, the fact that we can't do everything does not mean we shouldn't do anything.

I believe the EU should today announce a review of all existing arms export licenses that have been issued to Egypt.

The EU Common Position on Arms clearly prevents member states from granting licenses if the weapons exported are to be used for internal repression in the destination country.

Given recent events in Cairo, member states now have a responsibility to make clear that all export licences previously granted continue to meet this basic test and commit to review existing licences with this standard in mind.

Alongside this Europe should place all existing aid to Egypt under urgent review, and should urge the Egyptian authorities to suspend the State of Emergency and commit to a fixed timetable for holding new elections.

It was right for the United States to try to influence the Egyptian military authorities towards a democratic path after their removal of Mohamed Morsi.

And while the cancellation of 'Operation Bright Star' is to be welcomed, the US must continue to assess how it can bring what influence it can bring to bear on this situation.

So today in Brussels it is vital that a clear and robust stance by Western governments makes clear to the Egyptian Generals that they cannot act with impunity.

 
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