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Australia supporting Egypt’s historical democratic transition

August 24, 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr with Egyptian Ambassador Omar Metwally in Canberra on August 20, 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr welcomed Australia’s constructive relationship with Egypt during a farewell call by Ambassador of Egypt Omar Metwally on 20 August in Canberra.

Senator Carr said he thanked the Ambassador for his personal contribution to building a stronger relationship between Australia and Egypt during his term as Ambassador, especially following the dramatic political transition in Egypt in early 2011.

“Australia has shown strong support for Egypt’s historic democratic transition,” Senator Carr said.

“Australia has developed a $20.75 million assistance program in consultation with Egypt focused on the priority areas of agricultural capacity building, food security, job creation initiatives, mine clearance and electoral support.

“I congratulated the Ambassador on the election of Dr Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s first civilian President and the appointment of Dr Hisham Kandil as Prime Minister.

“We discussed recent political developments in Egypt, and the need to press ahead with the important work of developing a new constitution.”

Senator Carr and Ambassador Metwally discussed issues confronting Egypt’s Coptic community, and the problem of sectarian violence including recent unrest in Giza.

“I welcomed President Morsi’s undertaking to be President for all Egyptians and told the Ambassador we looked to Egypt’s new constitution to protect and promote the fundamental rights of all Egyptians, including the freedom of religion,” Senator Carr said.

Senator Carr took the opportunity to seek the Ambassador’s assistance in ascertaining the status of investigations by Egyptian authorities in a case involving Australian citizen Austin Mackell.

“I told the Ambassador that while we respected the judicial processes of other countries, we would continue to press for clarification of Mr Mackell’s case,” Senator Carr said.

“I also told the Ambassador I looked forward to visiting Egypt in the near future to meet my counterpart Foreign Minister Amr and discuss practical ways of further strengthening our cooperation and relationship.”

  1. August 24, 2012 2:02 pm

    Hi Bob,

    Glad you found time to raise the case. Seriously though, after nearly 7 months your still just finding out what my status is?

    Better late than never. Hope you keep it up.

    • Bob Carr permalink*
      August 25, 2012 4:57 pm

      You have been the subject of persistent Australian representations.

      You are under Egyptian law not Australian. We can make representations but not order your release. Despite the tone of your comment I will be raising your case strongly when I am in Egypt week after next. I am confident that reason will prevail.

      • August 26, 2012 7:38 am


        You can take no credit for the actions of the embassy staff, who took all initiatives within their purview to help out right from the start, before you were the minister, and who as far as I can tell, have received no help from you till now, despite being clearly stonewalled by the Egyptians. it seems to me like you were stonewalling them to almost the same degree.

        While obviously I am subject to Egyptian law while in Egypt, the senate did pass a resolution calling on you to ensure that due process was followed and the matter resolved with an appropriate swiftness. Given than after more than six months I am yet to be told if and when there will be a court date, I would say action on your part is long overdue.

        I find it odd you think the “tone” of a comment on your blog is relevant to whether or not a citizen deserves your representation.

        That said I welcome it wholeheartedly. Fairness dictates that I also thank you for the letter you sent previously to the Egyptian foreign minister.

        I certainly hope that you are right and that reason soon prevails.

      • August 26, 2012 7:59 am

        Hi Bob – as you probably know, there have been almost ten thousand signatures on the open letter I drafted requesting public support from the government on Austin’s matter. I co-edit an academic journal for which Austin was preparing a piece when he was arrested. Our statement can be read here:

        The question is not whether diplomatic representations for ‘clarification’ will/have be made, but whether the Australian Government will take a stronger stance and condemn the arrests and trumped up case as harassment and politically motivated. Travelling to Mahalla to write an article for an academic journal and to interview a labour leader, which is why Austin was there, is not illegal in Egypt. And the idea that he travelled to Mahalla in order to incite children to throw rocks at a police station, which is what he has been advised he is accused of, is patently absurd.

        I remain concerned that while the Australian government continues its current path of waiting on a legal system that is extremely politicised, and treating the situation as one where the rule of law is likely to be the key driver of whatever resolution comes, you are condemning him to languish in Egypt. I appreciate these diplomatic situations are complex to navigate, but it is clear to anyone who examines this case the issue is more the sort of journalism Austin writes – which is highly critical of the former regime and the SCAF – not that there is evidence of any crime.

        Yours sincerely
        Elizabeth Humphrys
        Editor, Interface Journal – Oceania & Asia Pacific


  1. UPDATE: Australia supporting Egypt's historical democratic transition – Blog « Regional Wars!

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