Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation in Egypt

Delivered in Plenary - 3 July 2013

Mr President

It hardly needs to be restated here that the situation in Egypt remains very grave. In fact the situation is evolving on a seemingly hourly basis as the army deadline approaches and there are reports that tanks are being seen on the streets. We must take this opportunity to offer our support to the millions of ordinary Egyptians who never lost their dreams for freedom, prosperity and security through all the decades of Hosni Mubarak’s tyranny, of the bloody, hard-fought Arab Spring revolution and now, for a year, of the chaotic mismanagement by Mohamed Morsi, whose legitimacy is now in question.

I stood here a few months ago and argued that revolutions are transitions rather than transformations and that perhaps a period of instability was to be expected after such upheaval, but President Morsi has tested the patience of his international partners and, far more importantly, his own people, to breaking point. Let us not forget that the real victims of Egypt’s unrest are not Egyptian politicians, many of whom are fighting old battles in their own interests, still less those in the international community, but rather the millions in Egypt who have taken to the streets virtually every week for two and a half years to seek a better life based on fundamental freedom.

Morsi’s interests lie with the sectarian Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and not with all of the people of Egypt. Under his stewardship, conditions for women and minorities, particularly the much oppressed Christian Copts, have steadily worsened and injustice has increased, while civic freedoms have been eroded by a President who has at times attempted to unilaterally seize all the levers of power, even where Mubarak never dared to go.

This is not the revolution the Egyptians demanded, nor one that we in the EU can support. We must now throw our weight behind the Tamarod rebels seeking new elections – but without a return to full-scale military dictatorship – whilst urging the opposition to protest without violence, particularly in the light of last night’s clashes between pro-Morsi supporters and the security forces at Cairo University, in which at least 16 people were killed and 200 injured. Morsi must go, as Egypt deserves much better.