French Finance Ministry allows Egypt’s new Rafale fighter plane contract to progress

A Rafale fighter jet prepares to land at the air base in Saint-Dizier, France, in this February 13, 2015. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 29 November 2017
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French Finance Ministry allows Egypt’s new Rafale fighter plane contract to progress

CAIRO: Egypt’s purchase of 12 Dassault Rafale fighter jets from France looks to be going ahead, allaying Cairo’s fears that the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance (Bercy) would block the deal.
During a three-day visit made by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to Paris in October, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that he wanted to continue to develop the relationship between Egypt and France. As a result, the Élysée — the president’s office — reportedly asked Bercy to stop blocking negotiations for the sale of a dozen more fighters to Egypt.
Egypt has been modernizing its armed forces with support from France in recent years, beginning when Jean-Yves Le Drian was French minister of defense. Egypt spent around €7 billion with the French arms industry between 2014 and 2016, and currently has several contracts ongoing with French companies, including a military telecom satellite for its air force, in addition to the Rafale fighters, and four Gowind 2500 corvettes for its navy.
But Bercy was unwilling to allow Egypt to strike further deals with the French government, having underwritten the previous Rafale contract, which also included a FREMM multi-tasking frigate valued at more than 5.2 billion euros.
A letter of guarantee from the ministry to the Compagnie Française d’Assurance pour le Commerce (COFACE) financed the 2015 deal. The letter of guarantee was sent to French investment bank Bpifrance in early 2017.
La Tribune reported earlier this year that the letter of guarantee had been fully utilized and that the ministry did not wish to underwrite further loans for any transactions concluded with Egypt, whether military or civilian, despite the fact that Egypt had reportedly not missed any scheduled payments for the 2015 deal.
Macron’s desire to resolve the matter is based on guarantees. Egypt’s economy is expected to grow by 6 percent this year, according to analysts. Cairo has money to pay the bills. And from the end of this year, Egypt should be able to rely on gas production in the Mediterranean to satisfy domestic demand for several decades, with sufficient excess to export part of its production, significantly improving Egypt’s international financial status.
French daily La Tribune reported that Cairo has requested the same terms as those in contracts Egypt already signed for 24 of the planes in 2015.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian delivered a new French proposal to El-Sisi at the World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh earlier this month, according to the newspaper.
With Bercy apparently no longer seeking to block the deal, an Egyptian delegation visited Paris last week to resume negotiations. There is a good chance that a contract will be signed before the end of the year.
 


Egypt says Israel’s Jewish nation-state law undermines Middle East peace

Updated 21 July 2018
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Egypt says Israel’s Jewish nation-state law undermines Middle East peace

  • Egypt on Saturday said a new Israeli law giving Jews the exclusive right to self-determination in the country undermined the chances for peace
  • The law, which was passed on Thursday, has drawn rebuke from the EU and was denounced by the Palestinian Authority

CAIRO: Egypt on Saturday said a new Israeli law giving Jews the exclusive right to self-determination in the country undermined the chances for peace in the Middle East and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
The law, which was passed on Thursday, has drawn rebuke from the EU and was denounced by the Palestinian Authority and Arab citizens of Israel as racist legislation.
“The Arab Republic of Egypt announces...its rejection of the law passed by the Israeli Knesset on the “national state for the Jewish people” law ... for its ramifications that consecrate the concept of occupation and racial segregation,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.
“It undermines the chances for achieving peace and reaching a just and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian issue,” it said.
It said the law would also have a potential impact on the right of Palestinians displaced from their homes in 1948 when Israel was founded, and their descendants, to return to their homes under United Nations resolutions.
Egypt in 1979 became the first Arab country to forge a peace treaty with Israel under the US-sponsored Camp David accord that provided for the Jewish state to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula.
But relations between two countries remained lukewarm, with Egypt demanding that Israel quit other lands it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, including the Syrian Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem.
On Friday, Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque, the most prestigious Sunni Muslim institution, denounced the Israeli law calling it “a step that reflects repugnant racism“