Europe holds emergency discussions on Egypt
Amir Tadros coptic Church in Minya, some 250 kms south of Cairo, was set ablaze on August 14. Egypt's Christians are living in fear after a string of attacks against churches, businesses and homes of Christians (AFP/VIRGNIE NGUYEN HOANG)
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Top European Union officials on Monday prepared to hold emergency talks on the crisis in Egypt, which has claimed nearly 800 lives over five days.
Ambassadors were recalled from their summer break for the meeting expected to start in Brussels at 0800 GMT, AFP news agency reported.
On Sunday, the bloc warned it would “urgently review” ties with Cairo in the coming days.
The European Union has pledged nearly five billion euros ($6.7 billion) in aid to Egypt but the bloc has cautioned this too was under “constant review” after Islamist President Mohammad Morsi’s ouster.
Warning the further escalation of violence could result in “unpredictable consequences,” Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission urged Egypt’s army and interim government to restrain from violence, restart dialogue and adhere to the democratic process.
“Together with its member states, the EU will urgently review in the coming days its relations with Egypt and adopt measures aimed at pursuing these goals,” said Van Rompuy and Barroso, as quoted by AFP.
“The calls for democracy and fundamental freedoms from the Egyptian population cannot be disregarded, much less washed away in blood.”
"In cooperation with its international and regional partners, the EU will remain firmly engaged in efforts to promote an end to violence, resumption of political dialogue and return to a democratic process."
Stating that the violence and killings in Egypt this week cannot be “justified nor condoned” and should end immediately, Van Rompuy and Barroso also called for political prisoners to be released.
Meanwhile, in his first comments since authorities launched a bloody crackdown on Morsi supporters, Egypt’s military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned security forces would confront any further violence from protesters.
“There is room for everyone in Egypt,” AFP quoted Sisi as saying when he addressed military and police officers in his first public comments since last week’s security clampdown on Morsi loyalists that left hundreds killed.
The general, however, warned that anyone who resorts to violence will not be tolerated.
“Whoever imagines violence will make the state and Egyptians kneel must reconsider; we will never be silent in the face of the destruction of the country,” AFP quoted him as saying.
He added: “We have given many chances ... to end the crisis peacefully and call for the followers of the former regime to participate in rebuilding the democratic track and integrate in the political process and the future map instead of confrontations and destroying the Egyptian state,” the Associated Press quoted him as saying.
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