12 March 2020 Egyptian FM Shoukry meets Borrell amid EU criticism of human rights violations in Egypt

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with HR/VP Josep Borrell and other EU representatives in Brussels on 12 March and discussed “bilateral relations, cooperation to foster sustainable socio-economic development and human rights”. They also exchanged views on regional issues such as the situation in Libya, the Middle East Peace Process, Syria and the Nile waters. The Egyptian FM also held talks with EU-Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, who stated that  they had a “good and productive discussion” on EU-Egypt bilateral cooperation, as well as with EU-Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn. Also on 12 March, the EU released a statement demanding the release of human rights activists detained by Egyptian authorities after the 20 September 2019 protests. In fact, according to  Human Rights Watch, the Egyptian government continues to silence critics through the detention of journalists and human rights defenders such as Zyad el-Elaimy, who was sentenced to one year in prison on 11 March after he appeared on an interview for the BBC. Further, the EU statement underlines the importance of “the respect of online and offline freedom of expression, media, peaceful assembly and association and the need to stop unduly restricting space for civil society, including through assets freezes, travel bans and long periods of pre-trial detention”.