“Egyptian-German relations are Witnessing an unprecedented Boom on the Various Levels”
A look into current developments between Egyptian-German cultural, economic and political relations, with Amb. Badr Abdellatty at Embassy of EgyptSeptember 24th, 2019
On 9th September, a member of Berlin Global had the honour of visiting the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt to interview His Excellency Badr Adbelatty, Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany. During the interview, many topics were discussed ranging from the longevity of the Ambassador’s career to reforms to education and student exchanges as well as the role of media within diplomacy and international relations.
Your Excellency, your professional career has spanned across many years and regions. From 2001 to 2003, you became the First Secretary at the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of African Affairs and the Middle East Peace Process. Then between 2008 and 2012, you went on to work at the Egyptian embassy in Brussels, as well as many other posts in recent years.
1. Considering this, how has your advocacy of Egypt and its cultural, political and economic values developed?
The Egyptian diplomacy reaches out to all countries and regions of the world, this prestigious school of diplomacy is characterised by its extensive experience in the various fields of diplomacy and at all levels of international political relations, I am honoured that I have served my country in many important Egyptian embassies which played an important role in refining my diplomatic experience and helped me to be aware of the various ways and means through which I could implement Egypt’s interest at various levels, especially political and economic interests.
2. What was the most challenging decision you had to make in the interest of your country?
The Diplomatic work is rich in experiences and challenges of that occur on an almost daily basis and the necessity to make decisions whether with small and limited impact, or with important and major impacts. Perhaps the most difficult decision to be made by a diplomat in his diplomatic career is to prioritise the interests of his country over his personal interest and likely over the interests of his own family itself.
3. Germany and Egypt have maintained friendly relations for decades. In recent years, how has Germany supported the development of a modern and democratic state in Egypt?
Egypt and Germany enjoy distinguished bilateral relations on all levels. The special friendly relationship between President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and German Chancellor Merkel has had an important impact in promoting bilateral relations and achieving unprecedented levels of coordination and cooperation. Germany plays a positive role in supporting reform and development efforts undertaken by Egypt, which were launched in the last few years. In particular, Egypt seeks to benefit from the German expertise in the field of vocational and technical training.
4. In your many years in service, how have you observed culture—including the media and arts— to shape society and politics?
Culture and the arts play a very important and positive role in shaping the personality of the individual and thus in shaping societal and political character, and so it is essential for any diplomat. Following up on what is conveyed through the international and local media is a major aspect in the daily life of every diplomat, especially issues related to diplomatic work and important developments in the international arena.
5. The term cultural diplomacy is a relatively new concept, and therefore has there been any challenges that you have faced when attempting to implement particular strategies or policies and how did you overcome them?
Egypt is a country rich in culture and history, which gives ample scope for achieving rapprochement and understanding among peoples, paving the way towards enhancing cooperation and consolidating the bonds of friendship between countries. In this framework, I would like to highlight that my duties as the Egyptian Ambassador in Germany included the organisation of regular meetings and events to introduce the ancient Egyptian civilisations and Egyptian culture and its distinct diversity and uniqueness.
6. Perhaps, an area with considerable potential is tourism. Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism recently announced its campaign with “Beautiful Destinations”. How effective is tourism to nation branding as well as sustaining cultural relations with other nations?
Foreign tourism is very important and essential for Egypt, the Egyptian Embassy in Berlin has played an important role in the development of the level and size of German tourists visiting Egypt over the recent years, achieving unprecedented rates over the last three years, which were not achieved even in the peak year in Egypt in 2010. German tourism to Egypt is focused on leisure tourism and beaches, and hence we are working to encourage the German tourists to head to other destinations as well, especially cultural and historical destinations in upper Egypt.
Your Excellency, you have obtained several degrees from Cairo University, with specific focus on International Relations. In August, you also met with a number of postgraduate students studying for master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Berlin. In your remarks, you mentioned that many German companies have enhanced their business in Egypt.
7. Are there any initiatives or programmes that offer cultural exchange and employment between Egyptian and German students?
We are already coordinating with the German Ministry of Education and the German Academic and Scientific Exchange Authority DAAD to coordinate student exchanges between the two sides in order to achieve the desired rapprochement between the Egyptian and German peoples.
Egypt also has a rich history of the arts and culture from ancient civilisations to modern literary talents such as Naguib Mahfouz, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. For decades, Egypt has also attracted many archeologists and anthropologists, coming to the country to undertake research.
8. That aside, are there any current developments to modern science and technology, and partnerships between Egypt and Germany?
There are many programs that we are developing with the German side, especially in the field of vocational and technical education. We are also cooperating in that field with major German companies such as Bosch/Siemens/Mercedes Benz.
9. Has Egyptian-German relations also prospered in terms of political, economic domains in recent years?
The Egyptian-German relations are witnessing an unprecedented boom on the various levels, in light of the proximity of visions and positions between the leaderships of the two countries. This cooperation and development of relations is reflected in the continuous exchange of high ranking official visits from both countries and in the significant increase in the number of German companies that have headed to invest in the Egyptian market.