Ambassador Vijay Thakur Singh, DG, ICWA
Ambassador Wael Mohamed Awad Hamed
Ambassador Navdeep Suri
Eminent Panelists Mr. Atul Aneja and Mr. P.S. Jayaraman
Ladies and Gentlemen
A very Good Afternoon to all,
It gives me immense pleasure to moderate this esteemed panel in today’s Panel Discussion on ‘India-Egypt Ties in Changing Global Order’, which has been planned in the run up to the forthcoming visit of Hon’ble President of Arab Republic of Egypt H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. I thank DG, ICWA and her team for organizing the event at a short notice. I also thank all the eminent panelists and the audience for taking time for this very important discussion.
2. This is indeed a momentous occasion in our bilateral relations of Egypt when the two countries are celebrating 75 years of establishment of diplomatic relations. Our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has invited President Sisi as Chief Guest on our Republic Day and the invitation has been warmly accepted by President Sisi. We have also invited Egypt as a Guest country during our G-20 Presidency this year.
3. It is a matter of satisfaction that the age-old civilizational links between India and Egypt have not only stood the test of time, but also been further strengthened by mutual warmth, friendship and goodwill. We know about the famous edicts of Ashoka which refers to his relations with Egypt under Ptolemy II. In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi and Egyptian revolutionary leader Saad Zaghloul shared common goals for the freedom of their respective countries.
4. Our focus today is to strengthen this bond and at the same time, nurture new connections. Egypt is our valued partner and has a pivotal role in maintaining peace and stability in the Arab world and Africa. India-Egypt partnership has immense potential and can achieve greater heights based on commonalities of Global South that we historically share. We have excellent cooperation with Egypt in multilateral forums and good understanding on regional and global issues.
5. The relationship received momentum with visits of President Sisi to India in 2015 (For IAFS III in Oct 2015) and again in 2016 (State Visit in Sept 2016). Our Prime Minister and President Sisi have been meeting on the margins of international forums (UNGA 2015 and BRICS Summit 2017). During the pandemic time, the cooperation between our two countries has further strengthened.
6. Our multi-faceted bilateral engagement has further intensified in the recent times. Three key visits have taken place from our side — Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh (Sept 2022), External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar (Oct 2022) and Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav (Nov 2022) visited Egypt while Egypt’s Minister of Communications & Information Technology, Dr. Amr Talaat was in India last week.
In addition, there has been exchange of a series of visits by high-level officials, service chiefs and other functionaries from both sides, providing much needed thrust to our ties as physical interactions were halted for almost 2 years due to the pandemic.
7. Our economic engagement has enhanced significantly in the recent years with an all-time high bilateral trade of US $ 7.26 billion in 2021-22. Our trade basket has also diversified.
I am also pleased to note that Indian companies are making significant investments (US$ 3.15 billion) generating employments (about 38,000) in Egypt. We are glad to note that in the last few months 3 Indian companies have signed MoUs worth US$ 18 billion for producing Green Hydrogen in Egypt. There is tremendous scope for further expanding our economic and commercial ties.
8. We are glad to see a robust partnership evolving in the field of defence with Egypt. The collaboration has manifested in the form of joint exercises and active participation in defence exhibitions and training modules. Our defence industries are also keen to work together.
9. The multi-faceted partnership between India and Egypt is gaining strength in several areas such as security, renewable energy, infrastructure, IT, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, higher education, science & technology etc.
10. It is heartening to note that many Egyptian professionals and students have benefited from our various capacity building programmes and scholarships. More than 1500 Egyptian officials have benefited from our flagship ITEC programme (since 2000). Egyptian students are availing ICCR and IAFS scholarships (83 since 2014).
11. India has also hosted diplomats from Egypt from time to time at our Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service. A dedicated course for 33 Egyptian Diplomats is being planned for Sept 2023.
India established ‘Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC)’ in Cairo in 1992 to promote cultural cooperation between the two countries. Yoga is gaining popularity in Egypt and International Day of Yoga has been organized at iconic venues of Egypt.
We are aware of popularity of Bollywood films in Egypt and of late, Indian TV operas have gained popularity in Egypt.
It is also a fact that generations of Indian Diplomats, including myself, begin their career by learning Arabic language in Cairo.
12. The partnership between India and Egypt is a win-win equation. I am confident that our bilateral relations will continue to strengthen and scale new heights in the coming years reflecting our needs, aspirations and vision for a more stable and prosperous future.
13. We are confident that the forthcoming visit of President Sisi to India and his discussion with our leadership on a range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest will impart new impetus to India-Egypt relations and set a strong foundation for our future collaboration in diverse areas.
14. This afternoon we will all look forward to an engaging discussion with all our eminent panelists. I would conclude by once again thanking ICWA for organizing this useful discussion.