President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to Austria، set to begin tomorrow Sunday until December 18، represents a great and real opportunity for boosting and strengthening the European-African partnership in the political، economic and security fields.
Cairo and Vienna enjoy deeply rooted political and economic relations; especially that Egypt’s presidency over the African Union (AU) will coincide with Austria’s rotating presidency over the European Union in February.
During the visit، president al-Sisi will hold important talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to discuss enhancing bilateral economic relations، in addition to reviewing number of regional and international issues of common concern.
On Monday and Tuesday، president Al-Sisi will also take part in high-level meetings on the sidelines of ‘Africa-Europe Forum’ to discuss all ways to enhance cooperation between Africa and the European Union in the areas of immigration، innovation and the digital economy.
Egypt and Austria’s keenness to enhance bilateral relations is evident in statements of senior officials in both countries on the importance of strengthening cooperation in all fields، especially political and economic، in addition to the exchange of visits between the two countries over the last period.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Bastian Kurtz، accompanied by Donald Tusk، president of the European Council، visited Cairo On September 23، and held talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The talks focused on promoting Arab-European coordination to face regional challenges and common threats، including illegal immigration.
In the same vein، President Abdel Fattah El Sisi received، on November 12، a phone call from Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
During the phone conversation، President Sisi told Kurz that Egypt is keen on boosting historic relations with Austria، especially through maximizing economic cooperation and increasing the volume of trade exchange between the two countries.
In this regard، President Sisi urged Austrian businessmen and major companies to invest in Egypt، given the recent positive developments in the field of economic reform.
For his part، the Austrian chancellor said that his country is willing to elevate bilateral ties with Egypt، lauding concrete accomplishments that Cairo witnessed in the areas of economic and social development، in addition to carrying out mega national projects and enhancing the investment climate.
Austria sees Egypt as a key partner، especially in light of Cairo's diversified bonds with Europe and mutual challenges facing the two states on the Mediterranean.
Vienna relies on Cairo's pivotal role to consolidate stability in the Middle East and Africa، Kurz added.
The two sides touched on a number of regional issues of common concern، notably ongoing efforts to counter illegal migration، terrorism and the extremist thought.
On September 2018، the Egyptian president stressed، in a phone conversation with Kurz "strong bond" between Cairo and Vienna، expressing his desire to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the upcoming period، especially in the fields of investment and trade، for the benefit of both countries and peoples.
Al-Sisi clarified Egypt's efforts in the field of combating terrorism and achieving security and stability، as well as controlling the land and sea borders، which resulted in preventing illegal immigration to Europe from the Egyptian coasts since September 2016.
Sisi also noted that Egypt currently hosts millions of refugees from multiple nationalities، stressing that they live naturally among the Egyptian people.
The two leaders also discussed coordination on regional and international issues as well as counterterrorism efforts.
For his part، Kurz expressed his country's desire to develop relations with Egypt at all levels، praising Egypt's recent achievements in the field of development and infrastructure projects، as well as the firm steps taken in implementing the economic reform program.
He also applauded Egypt's efforts in combating terrorism and achieving stability and security، particularly countering illegal migration to Europe.
Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl has recently expressed the state and government’s aspiration to receive President Al-Sisi in Vienna.
In July، foreign minister Sameh Shoukry arrived in Austria and met with his counterpart Karin Kneissl. The two ministers discussed the Egyptian- Austrian relations and ways to boost the two countries economic and trade relations. Shoukry also meet with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
Austria is seeking to make use of Egypt's experience in combating illegal immigration from Africa to EU countries in light of expectations that the African continent's total population will reach 2 billion people by the end of the 21st century.
In this regard، the Austrian government has recently affirmed that its relationship with Africa will focus on long-term economic and industrial cooperation، noting that challenges can be met through partnership between the two sides.
The Austrian government has repeatedly announced its support to Egypt's efforts in combating terrorism and achieving security، stability and common challenges in the light of Egypt's failure to register any single illegal immigration case to Europe since September 2016.
In the economic sphere، Egypt and Austria are seeking to increase the volume of trade exchange and joint investments، as Austria is considered a favorable pass to increase Egypt's exports to the EU countries and vice versa، Egypt plays the same role for Austria in Africa and Arab countries.
According to some experts، president Al-Sisi 's upcoming visit to Vienna will strengthen the partnership between the European Union and the African continent، especially in coincidence of Egypt’s presidency of the AU and signing of the tripartite agreement between COMESA، SADC and EAC، which is expected to trade from Cape town to Cairo، in addition to Austria's keenness to closely work with Egypt to meet common challenges.