“The fundamental human rights, civil rights, freedom of expression and assembly, as well as freedom of the press, must be respected in Egypt, too,” urged Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Berlin on 26 January. On 25 and 26 January the largest nationwide protests since President Mubarak came to office in 1981 took place. He called on all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.
According to official figures, around 30,000 people demonstrated, initially peacefully, in the country’s major cities on 25 January. Clashes later broke out between demonstrators and the police, especially in Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia and Suez. Four people were killed and several hundred were arrested.
Renunciation of violence of critical importance
Guido Westerwelle said that the news from Egypt was worrying. The situation must not be allowed to escalate, thus restraint and the renunciation of violence were of critical importance. The German Government, and he himself, had repeatedly pointed out to Egyptian interlocutors in the course of many talks that Germany considered respect for human and civil rights to be of prime importance.
The Minister stressed that in talks he had, on the one hand, paid tribute to Egypt’s constructive role in the Middle East peace process but, on the other, had always made it clear that Egypt needed a social dialogue as well as respect for democratic human and civil rights. This was “part of our values-based foreign policy”.
Stability through democracy
“We have seen in the last few weeks that a country’s stability is not jeopardized by granting civil rights. Rather, societies become unstable when civil and human rights are denied,” stressed the Federal Foreign Minister.
Wherever human and civil rights were not respected, where civil liberties were denied, there was a danger of instability, a danger of social conflict, he went on to say. Stability could only be achieved in these countries through democracy, the respect for human and civil rights, freedom of opinion and assembly, and freedom of the press.
Last updated 27.01.2011