The German Embassy in Cairo welcomed on Friday a bilateral agreement allowing German civil society organisations to resume work in Egypt.
The Delegate of the German Foreign Ministry for Middle Eastern Affairs Philipp Ackermann and Egypt’s Ambassador Badr Abdel-Ati signed the agreement in Berlin.
German Ambassador in Egypt Julius Georg Luy depicted the agreement as “an important first step” and highlighted its importance to allow German institutions to resume their work for the benefit of the two countries without facing any obstacles.
This agreement functions as an additional protocol to the Cultural Agreement between the governments, signed and ratified by Egypt and Germany in 1959. It will serve as the legal framework for the work of German institutions in Egypt.
The statement noted that it is the first step towards solving the case of two employees of the German NGO Konrad Adenauer Foundation who were sentenced in absentia in 2011.
Earlier in March, Chancellor Angela Merkel, during her visit to Egypt, said that organising a legal framework for the German civil society work would further create opportunities for bilateral cooperation. She also added that this cooperation will allow individual legal cases to be revisited.
There are tied relations between the German political institutions and the German political parties, however German institutions receive their funding from the German public treasury in accordance with the Bundestag; they are independent from the German government in regards to their programs, the statement explained.
These organisations work on political education inside Germany, and since 1961 they have worked on enhancing cooperation and dialogue at an international level, which means communicating with governments, unions, and civil society outside Germany.
The Egyptian general prosecution has investigated a number of NGOs accused of receiving foreign funds illegally in 2011.
The court ordered closure of five foreign NGOs operating in Egypt and funds were confiscated: the US-based Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the International Centre for Journalists, and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
The case was reopened back in 2016, with which imposed the freezing of assets and travel bans on NGO workers. Civil society work in Egypt, especially in the freedoms and rights field, has been facing restriction during the past period, resulting in the referral of people to court, arrests, and closure orders.
On another note, Merkel met with President Al-Sisi and other Egyptian top officials during a short visit in March. Al-Sisi said that Germany is the most important economic partner to Egypt in Europe, adding that significant progress in Egypt’s economy is now obvious after the tough economic program Egypt has undertaken.