Egypt has been relatively successful in combating Covid-19 pandemic: Ambassador Dr Heba Elmarassi

Egypt’s Ambassador to India Dr Heba Elmarassi recently joined NewsX for a conversation where she spoke about how Egypt is containing Covid-19 spread, the steps taken by the country to safeguard its border and its relations with the friendly nations and other issues.

In the wake of three aircrafts that have arrived in India from Egypt under the able mentorship of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and there have been hordes of supply when it comes to the remdesivir vials, medical supplies, and equipment from Egypt. They all have been brought to India by Egypt in its dire need.

Ambassador Elmarassi said, “I would also like to express my solidarity with India in these difficult times. We are standing by our friends in India whenever we can. The two countries have good friendly strategic relations and the people of Egypt are with the people of India. India has always stood by the whole world. So, it’s time for us to help India in this crisis.”


Q. What kind of measures is Egypt taking to contain the virus? How is the vaccination drive coming along? What is the new way forward for global procurement of vaccination through an open supply chain as has been appealed by Minister of External affairs S. Jaishankar to different nations? How is Egypt taking this initiative forward?

All the countries of the world are seeking to have their people vaccinated as soon as possible and Egypt is no different. We have been doing our best since day one to vaccinate our people. Egyptian people are being vaccinated by different vaccines including Astrazeneca and Sputnik V. We are also having cooperation agreements with China and Russia. Egypt has been relatively successful in combating this pandemic. Fortunately, our numbers have been low and we are taking a lot of precautions to avoid having increased Covid-19 cases in Egypt.

Q. The first tranche of medical supplies have arrived in India. Is the President sending more tranches to India? Are there any funds allocation that has already been satiated for the same?

The recent consignment was quite big. It was brought to India by three cargo planes and consisted of oxygen cylinders, concentrators, diluters, ECGs, patient beds, and syringe pumps. Whether there will be another consignment or not, we will know it shortly but rest assured that Egypt will be standing by India. Whatever it needs, we will do our best to bring it to India.

Q. In the wake of the short supply of vaccines that India is currently facing, do you think there could be any agreement between Egypt and India for the import of vaccines coming in from Cairo?

The vaccine has not been produced in Cairo. We have signed an agreement and it will start by the end of 2021. So, it’s too early to talk about exchanging produced vaccines in Egypt but we will be ready to help whenever we can.

Q. The Egyptian armed forces have been integral to the logistical plan in transferring medical requirements. Under the leadership of President al-Sisi, it has been the same for India as well as the country’s armed forces have been at the helm of affairs when it comes to international logistics to procure these supplies. Is there integrated cooperation that can be witnessed between the armed forces of India and Egypt, for a further ball string of strategic ties between them, especially with the Covid heralding the position of cooperation between the two nations?

In the time of crisis, military forces are always part of handling any crisis. This is everywhere. In Egypt especially, it is having an integral role in trying to combat this pandemic and this role is crucial in a national committee formed for this objective. It is under the auspices of the President that forces are helping the Egyptian people against this pandemic. Yes, there is a cooperation between Egyptian and Indian armed forces on different domains.

Q. Talking about the geopolitical scenario Egypt finds itself in, in the eastern Mediterranean region, with Turkey been going ahead and giving advances in the wake of 2020 where the ties between Turkey and Egypt have been straining. Also in the wake of the developments in the eastern Mediterranean and the upheaval in Libya, how does Egypt see India as a strong ally?

Egyptian and Indian relations have always been very strong. Egypt and India are two big regional countries and the cooperation between them will always be positive and productive in whatever situation.

Q. Taking into consideration what happened in 2020 in the eastern Mediterranean especially around the red sea where there has been advancement made by Turkey Ships, the battleships trying to demarket the maritime relations that are special economic zones for Egypt as well as for Greece, in the wake of this a strong friendship has developed between the Government of Egypt and Government of India. How is the Egyptian government going ahead in tackling the situation?

Egypt is doing its best to protect its interest and to protect its interests and we are having contact with everyone in the region to have our country safe. We are having talks with everybody, we are cooperating with everybody. So, no doubt Egypt is doing its best and is cooperating with everybody including India to have regional peace.

Q. There have been lots of talks from strategic experts and political pundits when Egypt bought those 30 Rafael, is that a deterrent to politics faced by Egypt and neighbouring nations since 2020 especially?

Egypt is a big country and it is always purchasing planes and arms. So big countries always have strategic decisions for their country and this is no different for Egypt. This is something that goes without saying.

Q. There has been a change in the dynamics in the Middle Eastern region: a shift in US diplomacy when it comes to Iran nuclear deal, an embargo which had been put on Qatar which was led by Saudi Arabia and that has all but diminished with lots of pacts signed between the UAE and Qatar and several other countries. There has been a coalition government that has been formed in Libya after the skirmishes that have been exchanged the military involvement of Turkey in this entire scene from 2020 to now. Any scope of peace prospects when Egypt has gone ahead and showed its stand for global peace especially in these particular regions, what are the strategic steps Egypt is going to take to safeguard its border and its relations with the friendly nations?

Egypt has always been helping countries to have political solutions to all the problems. We support the government of Libya. We support any political solution signed by the Libyan people and we always have our support in political peace in the region.

Q. In wake of the new world order, a multilateral one in a post-Covid era, a lot of multilateral connections have been formed, the recent being the connectivity partnership between the European Union and India just been signed on 8 May. There have been assumptions of talks of free trade and if you take a look at QUAD which is, Quadrilateral amongst the nations of United States, Australia, Japan and India, they are all focal point on the Indo- pacific region and the Indian ocean region. Is there any bilateral ties highlighting bolstered relations between India and Egypt, keeping in mind the politically strategic and geopolitical alliances at this time eyeing the Indian Ocean region?

Egypt is having a very good relation with India. This bilateral relation includes a lot of fields. And Egypt is having good relationships with all the other countries of the region. The formation of a certain alliance needs a lot of discussion and evaluation but we have good relations with India and all the countries of the region.

Q. Any last message that you wish to send to India to strengthen the bilateral ties between India and Egypt. This pandemic has taken over all the world. What is the thought process and agenda that can be put forth for the second wave in India and the third possible wave as predicted by the experts?

The whole world is passing through a difficult time for a year and a half now. India and Egypt are not different from the whole world and they are all cooperating to fight the pandemic. India has always been an inspiration for the world with its civilisation and its diversity. So we are all sure that India will pass this crisis. We are standing by each other and as they say, Nobody is safe till everybody is safe.

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