On the European Parliament’s recent statements: Is there an explanation?

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The European Parliament issued a statement regarding its stance on the past and current situation in Egypt. In the statement, it called on Egypt to release political detainees, as well as figures associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The statement also conveyed the European Parliament’s concern with court rulings which it described as harsh towards some of the defendants and especially members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The parliament revisited a past moment, and went seven-months back in time when Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi became president, and stated that the elections did not meet the international standards of integrity. Based on that, the parliament decided not to send an observation mission to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The statement was an interruption in the flow of encounters that thus far governed Egyptian-European relations. For example, Egypt has received the prime ministers of Greece and Cyprus, and President Al-Sisi has also visited Italy and France. A number of interactions and events ensued between Egypt and the European capitals. Moreover, Egypt is about to undertake the third and last test adorning its road map. The question that begs itself here is: What happened for the European parliament to issue such unsound statement? And will this statement result in negative consequences?

In the beginning, we can assert that the statement did not comprise any new information regarding Egyptian-European relations that would have allowed it to be seen as comprising logical or predictable content. In fact, the statement is analogous to the British government’s decision to suspend its embassy operations in Egypt before Christmas and the New Year. There was no logical justification for the decision, and nothing had happened prior to that moment that muddled the security situation in Egypt. On the contrary, the terrorist attacks were targeted towards Australia, and later on France.

The main point here is that one explanation usually offered to explain European decisions and other unanticipated statements is that there exists no logical explanation regarding the laws that govern international relations and the idea of common interests. It is known that humanitarian principles are solely slogans propagated from time to time as part of attempts to offer explanations at times which witness the lack of reason that stems from the golden rule governing relations between countries: interests.

Emad Gad is vice president of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.