EU envoy Ashton meets Morsi, but didn’t refer to him by any titles like president, while emphasizing that Europeans have no plans or ideas to impose and it was up to the Egyptians to sort out their differences, while sources close to meeting said she advised Morsi to “accept new reality on the ground,” after the young people she met demanded that EU must recognise June 30 Revolution . Cairo politicians call British government ” Obama messenger boys,” as they give high profile to EU in defiance of America.
European Union foreign policy envoy Cathy Ashton didn’t say much in her Cairo press conference as she treaded carefully on egg shells fearing to offend the anti Muslim Brothers whom she realised are the vast majority of Egyptian people. Most important Ashton said “I met Muhammed Morsi” avoiding any titles and she didn’t refer to him once as President, not even by prefaced ‘former’, or ‘deposed’.
She emphasised, twice, that she told him she won’t negotiate on his behalf, represent him or carry messages from him. She repeated those assurances when speaking to Cairo journalists this morning.
Ashton said Morsi was well, is able to read newspapers and watch TV. She said their discussion was warm and frank because they had met many times before. But she wouldn’t disclose what was said. She said she was not in Egypt to bring a grand plan or impose solutions but to listen to all sides.
She repeated that EU did not have ideas of its own, and it was only offering help. She said it was up to the Egyptian people to sort out their differences and she and the EU were only trying to facilitate if they are asked to do so. But in reply to questions she said she urged all parties she met to be inclusive in their quest for building democracy. She said she also met with Dr Mohammed al-Baradai.
As for the continued pro Morsi sit-ins, she said people have a right to peaceful protest but like anywhere in the world the authorities are responsible to prevent violence. Apparently, her talks with MB leaders yesterday were not fruitful because while they say they are willing to negotiate, the precondition is Morsi’s return as president which is a no-go.
What explains Ashton’s cautious approach and appearing to drop any public recognition of Morsi as president was what she realised as facts on the ground. Yesterday before she was taken by army helicopter to meet the deposed president Muhammed Morsi, she had met all other political parties as well as the interim prime minister Hazem Beblawi and the acting president Chief Justice Adly Mansour. But the most important party was the young people, known as the June 30 revolution youth or Tamarud youth. Tamarud ( rebellion) movement started by non-political young people ( aged 18-32) who launched a petition demanding Mosri resignation and holding fresh presidential elections. By 27 June, they have collected 23 million signatures. They told Ashton, in no uncertain terms, that it would be conditional (for any role or dealing in future with EU) that EU must recognise June 30 as revolution by vast majority of Egyptian people and stop calling it a coup. Tamarud representatives told her that any deal could not include the letting off of MB leaders wanted for inciting violence.
But I understand that when Morsi told Ashton he was the legitimate president and won’t budge from his position, she told him she will not take this message back to Egyptian political parties or government as there was “new reality on the ground which he would be well advised to accept and recognise if he wants to move forward,” according to a source in the residence of Mr Morsi where her meeting took place.
What is now clear is the Egyptians deliberately highlighting a high profile role for the European Union instead of what would have been naturally a role for the United states. American ambassador Anne Patterson has become a hate figure in Egypt, and by giving high profile to EU role, and Egyptian politician tells me, cairo is sticking up two fingers to Obama and “his messenger boys in the British government.”
President Obama suspended the delivery of four F-16s fighters to Egypt. Russian President Putin offered to send 55 Mig Fighters instead to Egypt. Moscow already sent huge amount to Wheat to Egypt, an important subsidized commodity of which Egyptians almost ran out under Morsi. Now the Russians have filled the silos with it.