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Thursday, April 19,  2018

ECFA Objectives:

In order to achieve its mission, the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs aims to:

1.Enrich and deepen public debate in Egypt about foreign issues and problems associated with them, especially the latest ones, shed light on their relation with issues of national interest to Egypt and their mutual impact. This is reflected in ECFA  conferences, seminars, round tables, members' general meetings, groups specialized or interested in the issues under discussion such as the Middle East crises, the phenomenon of terrorism, prospects of the Middle East peace process and Egypt's relations with foreign powers like the United States, Europe, Russia, China, Africa and Latin America. The discussions culminate in working papers or statements expressing ECFA's views in this respect, or in papers dealing with various issues such as latest developments in the region, the Syrian crisis, the situations in Libya and Yemen as well as other issues of particular importance to Egypt's national security such as the war on terrorism, the water file and energy conservation. ECFA usually hosts well versed figures in topics under discussion for examination, analysis and exchange of views.

In this context, it is worth noting that after the January 25, 2011 and the June 30, 2013 Revolutions, there was an extensive debate about trends of Egypt's foreign policy on a number of issues and Egypt's regional and international, relations, especially with the United States, at the expense of balanced relationship with other major powers such as Russia and China, among others. At the regional level there was criticism of Egypt's tolerance of Israel's aggressive practices against the Palestinian people. 

Though it seemed that domestic issues and concerns were the main driver of the January 25 revolution, especially in light of the motto "bread, freedom, democracy and social justice," the revolution's reactions after Mubarak gave up power indicate that foreign policy issues were present. There were growing calls for the restoration of Egypt's regional role and for reviewing its stand on many issues. Thus, even before matters settled down after the June 30 Revolution and the completion of the roadmap with the conduction of the parliamentary elections, ECFA set out to follow up the developments and regional and international implications of the Revolution. It organized discussions by experts and specialists in the domestic affairs, and held joint meetings with foreign figures and research centers to examine the impact of the revolution, and of Arab revolutions in general, at the regional and international levels. As part of its diverse publications, ECFA issued "Paper on Egyptian Foreign Policy Issues after the Revolution "(May 2011) another paper on" Discussion of the Egyptian Foreign Policy: An Analytical Paper "(August 2013).

The New directives for the external policies after revolution of 30 June

Apart from that ECFA moved at the international level to spell out the reality of the situation in Egypt after the June 30 Revolution. An ECFA delegation visited New York, Washington, Beijing and Moscow to explain the real situation. The Council had issued a statement endorsing the  armed forces' stepping in to support the demands of the people on the June 30, sent letters to counterpart councils and centers abroad to explain the nature of the popular movement on June 30, and issued a statement endorsing the roadmap, which was announced by the armed forces on  July 9, 2013. It also sent letters to counterpart councils and centers explaining the nature of the security authorities move to break up the sit-ins and counter the terrorist Muslim Brothers' reactions to them (August 2013). In addition, ECFA dedicated its annual conference in 2014 to the theme of "The Egyptian Foreign Policy: A New Era". Besides, the  Council held a series of seminars to shed light on new trends in Egypt's foreign policy in the aftermath of the Revolution, including a seminar entitled "The Egyptian Foreign Policy and Heading East (May 2014 ) and seminars on Egypt's relations with some major powers, including the "Egyptian – Russian Relations" (February 2014).On the domestic affairs, ECFA held seminars on the work of the Founding Committee entrusted with drawing up the Constitution (December 2012) and the 50 Committee which drew up the 2014 Constitution and its most important features. The Council held seminars on "the current economic situation in Egypt (December 2013) and prospective developments in Egypt (March 2014).Meanwhile the Council followed up the issue of water security for Egypt at a number of panel discussions. ECFA received delegations from the Ethiopian Council (February 2012) and the Ethiopian Institute for Peace and Development ( 22-26 June 2013). In-depth discussion focused on the Renaissance Dam and cooperation between among the Nile basin countries in general and Egyptian - Ethiopian relations in particular. The Council also held a seminar on the regional and international dimensions of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project (February 26, 2014).

On foreign issues, disarmament and non-proliferation have been given special attention by ECFA since its inception, as evident in many workshops and annual seminars such as joint conference of ECFA and the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London on Nuclear Energy and Non-Proliferation in the Middle East (2009), ECFA's participation in the conference of non-governmental organizations working in the field of disarmament, held in Helsinki (December 2012) in the aftermath of the postponement of the Helsinki Conference on Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East which was scheduled to be held in December 2012. An ECFA delegation participated in the meetings of the Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference of the NPT (2015) in April - May 2013 and April –May 2014. As a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Arab Forum for Nuclear Non-proliferation, ECFA will continue its efforts to activate the Forum through many events: - a seminar on "Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation: Egyptian Perspective " - cooperation  between the US-British Council for Information Security (BASIC) and the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University (March 2014) – a joint conference with the League of Arab States on " Implications of Regional Security Agreement on the Iranian Nuclear Standoff with the 5 + 1 group, under the auspices of the Secretary General of the League of Arab States (27 to 28 February 2016) – a joint conference between ECFA and the Association of Egyptian Pugwash and Nuclear Security Institute at the University of Tennessee ,US, on Nuclear Security Culture and Non-proliferation in the Middle East "(26 to 27 April 2016).

Apart from the disarmament and non

-proliferation issues, ECFA has paid special attention to several foreign issues, including the relationship between Islam and the West, as it held a joint conference in this regard with Euromescu (November 2004) and a seminar on the same theme (in January 2005). The Council also hosted Dr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, former Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (2008).

2. The Annual Conference and the international and regional issues,

Holding extensive discussion of regional and international issues of concern to Egyptian foreign policy and national interests, at annual conferences on issues of top priority and high urgency in real terms. The conferences are usually held in December of each year. The topics of ECFA annual conference during the past four years are: Regional and International Impacts of Arab Revolutions (2012) - Egyptian Foreign Policy and Regional and in International Balances (2013) - Egyptian Foreign Policy: A New Era (2014), - Egypt and the Challenges of Terrorism (was originally scheduled to be held in December 2015, but as ECFA was preoccupied with convening its General Assembly and the election of members of the Board of Directors, was held on January 18, 2016(.

Naturally enough the Middle East peace process and the inhuman and racist policies and practices on the part of Israel against the Palestinian have been of particular interest to the Council. In this context, ECFA 2006 annual conference was held under the title of "Present and Future of the Peace Process in the Middle East." The Council also held several seminars in this regard, including a - "Activating the Arab Peace Initiative for the Peace Process in the Middle East" (December 2014) - A workshop on "Palestinian National Reconciliation: Challenges and Opportunities for success" - The French Initiative and Prospects of Holding an International Conference for Peace in the Middle East (June 27, 2016).

Regional security issues have been of particular interest to the Council. In this context, it held several seminars and workshops for the discussion of "The Situation in Syria: Implications, Prospects, Consequences (October 2015). ECFA follows up developments in Africa in general, along with its interest in the African dimension in Egypt's foreign policy .In this context, a memorial service for leader Nelson Mandela was held in cooperation with the South African Embassy (January 2015), "Iranian crisis and Saudi Arabia" (January 2016) – A Dialogue Seminar between Egypt and NATO in February 2006, and another seminar on " Egypt and NATO "(October 2014). In this respect, ECFA also hosted the dialogue between some Syrian opposition factions in January and June 2015, resulting in the issuance of two statements by the participating factions expressing their perception of a settlement of the Syrian crisis. ECFA  held a joint workshop with the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies on a paper entitled "Towards an Egyptian Security Initiative and Regional cooperation" (May 31, 2016) provided by an ECFA member.

3. Free platform to rationalization the external policies and diplomacy Providing a platform for a free and neutral expression by all political and intellectual trends in Egypt, of their visions and views on regional and international issues, as well as enhancing and rationalizing the Egyptian foreign policy and diplomacy, in order to create ground for national consensus on broad lines. In this context, ECFA halls bring together figures belonging to different political currents to exchange views, engage in dialogue and debate and agree or differ, thereby developing clearer vision of issues. ECFA also makes statements on regional and international problems, such as the war on terrorism and the situation in the Middle East.

4.The Council also provides a platform for many of the regional and international personalities to meet. The Egyptian civil society is represented by the council members and specialized guests including former heads of state and government, ministers and dignitaries and visiting foreign delegations and ambassadors accredited to Egypt. ECFA hosts them on their own initiative or invites them for dialogue on specific and diverse issues. The Council provides a platform for visiting dignitaries and foreign delegations for talks or consultation with its members on issues of common concern, and on the sidelines of visits by the foreign figures and delegations to Cairo.

The Council has hosted a number of heads of state and government and foreign ministers one of them  Lyon Iliescu, President of Romania and Guido de Marco President of the Republic of Malta and former US President Jimmy Carter and Prime Minister of France and former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and French Defence Minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, Sudanese Foreign Minister and former Chairman of the Committee Africa Sudanese parliament, in addition to regular meetings with Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas ambassadors.

5.ECFA establishes bridges of communication and mutual relationships with many political and strategic research and intellectual centers in various countries around the world, and organizes meetings with them for dialogue on issues of common concern with the aim of developing ideas on current problems. Typically, these meetings take place alternately between Egypt and the countries in which ECFA partner research centre are. These meetings and events take place annually and on a regular basis. The number of ECFA partner councils and similar centers is about 25, including some Egyptian centers ,namely, the Regional Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo, Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, the Egyptian Council for Economic Affairs  and the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD).

As a result of relationships established by ECFA with many similar councils and centers abroad, some of its members receive invitations to represent it at the  conferences and seminars they hold to discuss regional and international issues. In this context, the Council has a consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (EcoSoc) since 2006; and it is seeking, through its representatives, to attend the Council meetings and gatherings.

6.Take into account the link between foreign policy and the requirements of supporting the Egyptian economy, especially with regard to attracting foreign investment to Egypt, and opening up markets for Egyptian goods and services: For this end, ECFA held meetings with delegations visiting Egypt, economic affairs officials, specialists and representatives of regional economic groupings of special importance for Egypt such as the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

7.Gain access to a wider circle of public opinion through the studies and articles published in Egyptian newspapers by a large number of ECFA members including writers, intellectuals, former diplomats, contributors to daily newspapers, magazines and television interviews on a regular basis, in addition to their participants in  seminars organized by a large number of civil society organizations and the annual seminars held at the Cairo International Book Fair.

8.For visibility, ECFA issues a quarterly newsletter edited by writer Mr Atif Elghamry to shed light on its activities and present the outcome of its work, activities, meetings and discussions. It also issues reports on the  conferences and seminars  it organizes and prepares papers on various issues. The Council began issuing an annual report on its activities during the year as of 2016, and posts material on its website.