The Egyptian-Italian relationship is expected to improve significantly in 2018, following the signing and concluding of several new deals and projects between Cairo and Rome, to end the political crisis which occurred after the murder of Italian researcher Regeni in 2016.
“The Egyptian-Italian relationship is expected to witness a great breakthrough soon as many projects will be uncovered within a few days,” said Egypt’s Ambassador to Italy Hesham Badr.
Badr called on all Egyptian expatriates in Italy to play a positive role in the upcoming presidential elections. During the Egyptian embassy’s celebration of Police Day and the January revolution’s anniversary, Badr mourned the martyrs, security and civilians.
Agreements have been discussed with the aim to inaugurate a new start in the relations between Italy and Egypt.
Badr emphasized in several occasions that Egypt is concerned with deepening the relations with Italy and will not allow any adversaries to destroy this newly reinstated partnership.
In December 2017, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received Italian Interior Minister Marco Minetti to discuss ways of boosting relations between the two countries.
Minetti conveyed the greetings and appreciation of the Italian president and Italian prime minister to President Sisi, stressing the depth and strength of the relationship between the two countries.
Minetti added that the cooperation between the two countries is expected to improve, especially in the field of combating illegal immigration, terrorism and economic relations by increasing Italian investments in Egypt.
On October 22, 2017, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Vincenzo Amendola visited Cairo to initiate talks between the two sides; aiming to strengthen the bilateral relations in the economic and trade fields, enhance cultural exchange, and establish continuous coordination on issues relating to security and stability in the Middle East.
In September 2017, Italy decided to send Cantini to Cairo citing that “investigations in the 2016 murder of Italian post-graduate student in Egypt have seen progress due to cooperation” as the reason.
In October 2017, during a ceremony held by the Egyptian Defense Office in Rome on the occasion of the celebration of the 44th anniversary of the glorious October War victory, Colonel Sherif Mohsen, Egyptian military attaché in Italy, said that the Egyptian-Italian relations are firmly established in light of cooperation between the two countries, expressing his appreciation to the Italian Defense Ministry.
Fruitful economic phase in Cairo-Rome relationship
In 2018, the Italian effort toward Egypt will amount to €35 million, of which €20 million are soft loans and €15 million are grants. For the Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo (AICS), it is one of the major contributions on a global scale. These initiatives are aimed at maintaining Italian support for the Egyptian private and agricultural sectors, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) included, already provided in the last few years.
At the same time, new areas will be involved, such as agroindustry and demography, and new recipients will be benefited, namely disabled people and the young generation in the framework of anti-illegal immigration.
In the field of investments, the meeting between Ambassador Cantini and Minister Nasr was dedicated to the new Investment Law – specifically the final regulations to put it into force – and the contribution that Italian companies can give. In this framework, the Italian side raised specific initiatives in which some Italian companies are involved.
On January 20, 2018, Minister of Military Production Mohamed el-Assar met with Italian Ambassador Cantini to discuss industrial cooperation between Cairo and Rome.
The meeting focused on the cooperation between military production companies in Egypt and Italian firms. They particularly discussed cooperation in agricultural mechanization technology and software industry along with the defense industry.
Giulio Regeni Murder
On January 24, 2018, Egypt’s general prosecution said that the letter attributed to the head of Egypt’s intelligence service on the arrest of Italian student Giulio Regeni prior to his death in Egypt is completely untrue.
An unknown person had sent the letter to the Italian Embassy in Bern, Switzerland.
The general prosecution received a letter from the Italian prosecution dated January 22, 2018 containing a fabricated letter dated January 30, 2016 and attributed to the head of Egypt’s intelligence service, the prosecution said in a Wednesday statement.
The letter claims that Egypt’s security bodies arrested Giulio Regeni before his death in Cairo.
Rome’s prosecution demanded that Egypt’s investigation authorities do whatever necessary in order to check the authenticity of the letter in compliance with judicial cooperation between the two countries on Regeni’s murder, according to the statement.
Investigations conducted by Egypt’s prosecution revealed that the letter is completely untrue and forged, read the statement.
The prosecution added that it informed the Italian side about the outcome of investigations within the framework of bilateral fruitful cooperation.
Meanwhile, the prosecution said it followed up with deep regret the reports circulated by several Italian media outlets and social media pages on the matter, noting that such reports harm judicial cooperation between Cairo and Rome.
On that score, the prosecution urged the media to check the authenticity of such news that ignite the public opinion’s feelings.
Italy’s prosecutor-general has paid several visits to Cairo in order to investigate the death of Regeni, alongside the Egyptian authorities.
In July 2017, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi assured a delegation of Italian lawmakers that his government is committed to bring to justice those responsible for the murder of an Italian student.
“President Sisi stressed the need to continue close cooperation between investigators in the two countries,” his office said in a statement released on July 11, 2017.
“The president reiterated Egypt’s full commitment to working on disclosing the circumstances surrounding the incident so as to determine the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” the statement reads.
On January 25, 2016, the 28-year-old Italian postgraduate student disappeared in Cairo, only for his dead body to be found on February 3 alongside the Cairo-Alexandria highway, bearing signs of extreme torture and beating, according to Reuters. This murder has led to strained relations between Italy and Egypt.
Last December, the Vatican’s delegation of the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP), which is responsible for pilgrimages to the Vatican, visited the Pyramids and Sphinx sites. The delegation was chaired by the head of ORP, Remo Chiavarini. They also paid a visit to the Egyptian Museum.
The Vatican’s delegation met with Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, and Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb.
Egypt’s top religious leaders, Tawadros and Tayeb, also stressed the good relations between the Catholic Church in the Vatican and the Egyptian Coptic Church.
Earlier, former Tourism Minister Yehia Rashid paid a three-day visit to Vatican City, during which he met with Roman Catholic Pope Francis, who blessed the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt as an official Christian pilgrimage.
After Pope Francis’s decision to bless the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt, they agreed to organize the first official Christian pilgrimage in May 2018.