Egypt–Russia relations

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Egypt–Russia relations
Map indicating locations of Egypt and Russia

Egypt

Russia

Egypt–Russia relations (Russian: Российско-египетские отношения) refer to bilateral relations between Egypt and Russia. Diplomatic relations between the USSR and Egypt were established on August 26, 1943. Egypt has an embassy in Moscow. Russia has an embassy in Cairo and a consulate-general in Alexandria.

History[edit]

Russian-Egyptian Friendship Monument is located Aswan near High Dam in Egypt.

Relations between Russia and Egypt have a long history. Early on, they were centered on the Russian government's and the Russian Church's support for the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria. As early as in 1556, Patriarch Joachim of Alexandria sent a letter to the Russian Czar Ivan IV, asking the Orthodox monarch to provide some material assistance for the Saint Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula, which had suffered from the Turks. In 1558 the Czar sent to Egypt a delegation led by archdeacon Gennady, who, however, died in Constantinople before he could reach Egypt. From then on, the embassy was headed by a Smolensk merchant Vasily Poznyakov. Poznyakov's delegation visited Alexandria, Cairo, and Sinai, brought the patriarch a fur coat and an icon sent by the Czar. Poznyakov's account of its two and half years' travels, which may have been the first ever Russian first-hand African trip report, became popular among Russian readers for centuries to follow.[1]

Russia continued to provide support to Egyptian Christians for centuries to come.

In the 1950s, Gamal Abdel Nasser independent and anti-imperialist policy earned him enthusiastic support from the Communist government of the USSR. The degree of the Soviet approval of the Egyptian leader's policies culminated, rather controversially, in the award of the highest Soviet decoration, the star of the Hero of the Soviet Union with the Order of Lenin to Nasser during Nikita Khrushchev's visit to the African country in 1964.

During the Nasser years, many young Egyptians studied in Soviet universities and military schools. Among them was the future president, Hosni Mubarak, who went for training in a military pilot school in Kyrgyzstan.[2]

The relationship went sour within years after the death of Nasser, when the new president Anwar Sadat started re-orienting the country toward the West. On May 27, 1971, a friendship treaty was signed between the two countries, but relations were nevertheless declining. In July 1972 the Egyptian government expelled Soviet military advisers from Egypt and in March 1976 abrogated the friendship treaty. In 1981, these relations were severed as a result of Soviet opposition to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Relations were reestablished under president Hosni Mubarak in 1984, and Alexander Belonogov became the Ambassador. In February 1989, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Shevardnadze visited Egypt.

Intergovernmental relations improved after the fall of Communism in the USSR, and Russia's appearance as an independent political actor. In April 2005 the Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Egypt, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited Russia in April 2008. Both countries agreed to work together to help Egypt create a nuclear programme which is mostly for civilian purposes. In May 2013, Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi visited Russia.

After new presidency election relations[edit]

Left: Sisi on his first visit to Russia as defense minister, during which Putin gave him a red star jacket.[3] (February 13, 2014)
Right: Putin and Sisi, during the latter's second visit, on board the Russian cruiser Moskva in Sochi.[4] (August 12, 2014).

Relations between the two countries have improved significantly following the July 2013 military coup that ousted Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Both countries have worked since then to strengthen military and trade ties[5] among other aspects of bilateral cooperation.[6]

In November 2013, Egypt's then Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy met with their Russian counterparts, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who were on a visit to Cairo. Fahmy stated that Egypt wished to return to Soviet-level relations with Russia, and Shoigu hinted that there may be military cooperation between the Russian and Egyptian navies and air forces.[7] It was the first meeting of its kind since the Soviet era.[8]

Egyptian and Russian leaders exchanged two rounds of four-way visits in both Cairo and Moscow following the coup. Sisi went to Russia twice in 2014: in February when he was still Egypt's defense minister, and in August after his election as president.[9] The February meeting was Sisi's first visit abroad following Mohamed Morsi's removal,[10] during which Russian president Vladimir Putin offered him Russia's backing in his race for the presidency of Egypt before Sisi even announced his bid.[11]

Sisi and Putin meeting on 16 August 2014
Vladimir Putin held talks in Sochi with President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Sisi made his second visit on August 12 at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, and it was his first to a non-Arab or African country since his swearing in ceremony two months earlier.[12] During the visit, both him and Putin agreed on boosting bilateral cooperation between the two countries.[13] Putin promised to speed up arms sales to Egypt. "We are actively developing our military and technological cooperation," Putin told Sisi. He added that a corresponding protocol was signed in March and that weapons are being delivered to Egypt.[8]

Trade and economic investment plans were also announced during the meeting,[12] during which Putin said that Egypt was discussing a free trade zone with the Russian-led Eurasian Customs Union which also includes Belarus and Kazakhstan.[14] Additionally, both leaders have discussed plans to establish a Russian industrial zone in the New Suez Canal project that was recently inaugurated by Sisi,[15] as well as another plan to renew and redevelop important projects that were established by the former Soviet Union.[12]

In September 2014, a preliminary deal was reached between both countries to buy arms worth $3.5 billion from Russia, despite Western sanctions on Moscow as a result of its involvement in the war in Donbass.[16]

Tourism[edit]

Russians constitute the largest group of outsiders to visit Egypt, while Russia is popular with Egyptian tourists as well.

Higher education[edit]

View of the Egyptian Russian University

In 2006, the Egyptian Russian University was opened in Badr City, Cairo, offering training in pharmacy and engineering. [17][18][19][20] Many of its students visit Izhevsk, Russia, for additional classroom study and summer internships. [21] Plans are under way to add a program in nuclear power engineering as well.[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ХОЖДЕНИЕ НА ВОСТОК ГОСТЯ ВАСИЛИЯ ПОЗНЯКОВА С ТОВАРИЩИ (The travels to the Orient by the merchant Vasily Poznyakov and his companions) (Russian)
  2. ^ Mubarak set for talks at Kremlin on nuclear and arms trade
  3. ^ Mauro, Ryan (17 February 2014). "Red Star Says It All: Egypt Makes Strategic Alliance with Russia". The Clarion Project. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Bassiouni, Mustafa (13 August 2014). "Sisi's visit to Russia is message to the West". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Anishchuk, Alexei (12 August 2014). "Russia to boost trade with Egypt after Western food ban". Yahoo News. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Naumkin, Vitaly (13 August 2014). "Russia, Egypt draw closer". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Egypt seeks to bring friendship with Russia to ‘Soviet level’". RT. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Zaks, Dmitry (12 August 2014). "Putin vows to boost arms sales to Egypt's Sisi". Yahoo News. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Gulhane, Joel (12 August 2014). "Al-Sisi, Putin seek stronger ties in Sochi". Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Egyptian Leader El-Sisi Meets Putin On First Foreign Trip". RIA Novosti. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Spencer, Richard (13 February 2014). "Vladimir Putin backs Egypt army chief Abdulfattah al-Sisi for president". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c "El-Sisi, Putin stress close ties, near arms deal". Al-Ahram. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Putin, Sisi agree on enhancing bilateral cooperation". India Today. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Russia, Egypt looking to create a free trade zone - Putin". RT. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Aggour, Sara (13 August 2014). "Egypt and Russia to establish industrial zone in Suez Canal". Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Russia, Egypt seal preliminary arms deal worth $3.5 billion: agency". Reuters. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  17. ^ ERU
  18. ^ EGYPT: RUSSIAN UNIVERSITY ESTABLISHED IN BADAR CITY.
  19. ^ Egyptian Russian University (ERU) (Catyalog entry))
  20. ^ RUSSIAN UNIVERSITY IN EGYPT TO OPEN ON OCTOBER 1
  21. ^ Студенты египетско-российского университета в ИЖГТУ (Students of Egyptian Russian University at Izhevsk State Technological University). 07.08.2009 / Удмуртская Правда № 85
  22. ^ Egyptian-Russian University to train nuclear power engineers

External links[edit]