Egypt continues to be Bulgaria's largest economic partner in Africa and the Middle East.

H. Mr. Moayad Fathallah Eldalie handed his credentials on 14 December 2017. His diplomatic career began 30 years ago after he graduated from the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at the University of Cairo, Egypt.

In 1988, he started working at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and attended courses at the Egyptian Diplomatic Research Institute and the Oriental and African Studies School in Cairo. Over the years his career developed and he has occupyied increasingly senior positions in the ministry and the Arab League. Outside his country from 1996 to 2000 he worked as First Secretary at the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Berlin, Germany; from 2001 to 2004 he was Counselor, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Manila, Philippines; from 2005 to 2009 a Deputy Head of Mission in Jakarta, Indonesia; from 2010 to 2012 he has been  General Consul of Egypt to the Autonomous Region of Sudan - Juba, South Sudan. In 2012, he became the first Egyptian ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan. Prior to coming to Bulgaria, from 2015 to 2017 he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Egypt to the Republic of Zimbabwe.

- Your Excellency, the diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Egypt have more than 90 years of history. The friendly and mutually beneficial relationships have sustained the changes of the time and the political orientations of the countries. As ambassador of the  largest and most influential country in the Arab world how would you like our bilateral relations to develop during your term of office?

- Actually, the diplomatic relations between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Republic of Bulgaria are one of the oldest relations between Bulgaria and the Arab countries.

In 2016 we celebrated 90 years of our friendly relations between our two countries, but the commercial and cultural relations are older than that date, there are many studies taking part in Egypt and Bulgaria for identifying connections between the old Pharaonic civilizations in Egypt and the Thracian civilization in Bulgaria.

The diplomatic relations between our two countries passed through many changes according to regional and domestic circumstances, for example after the democratic changes in Bulgaria and after its admission to the European union, the economic and commercial aspects are the most prominent of this relations, as of the political level we are pushing for more coordination and understanding between the political institutions in both countries.

In April this year our assistant foreign minister for European affairs visited Sofia for political talks with his counterpart in the Bulgarian ministry of foreign affairs. We agreed to coordinate for the next political consultations during the second half of this year and to study the possibility for holding the joint economic commission between both countries to finalize some pending agreements in many cultural and economic fields, besides taking the necessary arrangements for the coming visit of our Minister of Foreign Affairs to Bulgaria.

- Recently there were presidential elections in Egypt won by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. What can we expect in Egyptian domestic and foreign policy in the next period?

- I want to clarify some points about the last presidential elections which were held for Egyptians living abroad between 16-18 March 2018, and in Egypt between 26-28 March 2018:

First, these are the first presidential elections to be organized and supervised by the National Elections Authority (NEA); previous polls had been run by the High Elections Committee.

Second, NEA is an independent and sovereign institution, made up of 10 members selected by the Supreme Judicial Council including the heads and deputies of the Court of Cassation, the Cairo Court of Appeals, and the State Council; and is responsible for all the process of any presidential or legislative elections in Egypt according to the constitution starting from accepting the credentials of candidates till the official and final announcing of the results. 

Third, according to the Egyptian constitution, as in all democratic countries, there is a criteria and conditions for candidates to run for the presidential elections, such as an endorsement from at least 20 members of parliament or 25000 signatures from the public who have the right to vote.

Fourth, military staff in service are not allowed to vote or run for any presidential or legislative elections in Egypt according to the law.

Fifth, two candidates were running for the last presidential elections Incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Ghad Party chairman Moussa Mostafa Moussa. Many domestic, international, civil society, and non-governmental organizations submitted for official observation of the preinstall elections.

The percentage of public participation in the elections was a great evidence for the democratic and transparent process of the presidential elections.

We should not forget that we are fighting terrorism in Egypt on behalf of the world, every day Egyptian police and military personnel are losing their lives to eradicate terrorism.

The march for development in Egypt should continue for the benefits of Egyptian people, we are witnessing every day the opening of new and huge economic projects in different fields in Egypt.

- Trade turnover between Egypt and Bulgaria has increased in recent years. Will the upward trend continue?

- The trade balance between Egypt and Bulgaria marked a record last year, for the first time in history of economic relations between our two countries the trade balance reached more than 1 billion $.

- What place does Egypt have in the relations of Bulgaria with the Arab and African countries?

- Egypt is still the main and biggest economic partner for Bulgaria in Africa and Middle East. The trade with Egypt is even bigger than the trade of Bulgaria with some European countries; it is a fact that Egypt is one of main economic partners for Bulgaria outside the European Union, maybe Egypt is in the fifth place.

- Will you give some more details?

- Yes. The bilateral trade balance increased by 41%  compared to 2016. The Bulgarian exports to Egypt increased 26%, and imports from Egypt increased 54%.

We organized many economic and commercial events in Sofia to promote the bilateral trade such as the visit for Egyptian businessmen from Egyptian council for sustainable development in February 2016 and the economic forum held in the Bulgarian chamber of commerce where more than 70 companies were gathered to explore the opportunities of strengthening the commercial ties between our two countries

- Is there interest for investments?

- Many Bulgarian companies in different fields are interested in investment in Egypt in fields of renewal energy, constructions, and maritime logistics in Suez Canal economic zone, on the other hand there are many Egyptian companies working in Bulgaria in various fields.

- More and more Bulgarian tourists visit Egypt, and the Egyptians come to Bulgaria. Will both contries undertake initiatives and measures to maximize the potential in this area?

- It is true that tourism is one of the most important fields of cooperation between Egypt and Bulgaria, a field which needs more efforts to be developed and to explore its opportunities. So we started negotiation with the Bulgarian ministry of tourism to sign a new agreement of cooperation in the field of tourism, which is supposed to be ready and to be signed during the expected visit of H. E. Minister Nikolina Angelkova to Egypt during this year.

There is a real increase in number of tourism between our two countries, and significant increase of charter flights from Sofia to Hurgahda every year. Egypt is back to be one of the most favorite places for the Bulgarian tourists, and we expect to receive in summer more charter flights from Cairo to Varna and Bourgas.

- You have been in Bulgaria for some months already. Do you manage to travel outside of Sofia, to visit other cities, to get acquainted with some of our sights and resorts?

- Unfortunately, I have been here since December 2017 and since I arrived had many things to do regarding organizing the Embassy and making calls and visits to officials and colleagues in Sofia, thus having no time to travel outside Sofia and visiting other cities and getting to know the various and wonderful sights and resorts of Bulgaria.

I hope that I will have the opportunity to do so in the near future, which I am looking forward to, to explore the real Bulgaria and get to know more about what I have read about the cultural and touristic magic of this wonderful people and country.

- How do you feel here as a diplomat, how is your work with the Bulgarian institutions?

- As my all diplomatic colleagues in the Egyptian Embassy in Bulgaria, we all feel at home, and really enjoy the warm feelings and reception of our friendly brothers and sisters in Bulgaria.

My first conclusion since I arrived to Bulgaria, is the warmth and friendship of the people of Bulgaria and their love and enjoying life, in the same time keeping their rich culture and celebrating it, besides the kind help and cooperation from all the official institutes in Bulgaria, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which the Embassy have excellent cooperation with.

The material is provided by Standard newspaper -

Photo: Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt