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Interview on Egypt with Radio National’s Fran Kelly

July 4, 2013

FRAN KELLY: Let’s return now to developments overnight in Egypt. And the fast-moving events in the capital Cairo are being watched closely by governments around the world including the Australian Government. And our Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, joins us here on Breakfast from Seoul. He’s in South Korea for the inaugural defence and security talks. Minister, good morning, welcome to Breakfast.

BOB CARR: Yes, thank you, Fran, good morning.

FRAN KELLY: Senator, the Egyptian army is on the streets of Cairo as a show of force now. In your view from your perspective is this a military coup?

BOB CARR: I think it’s got to be considered as a military intervention whether it can be regarded as a coup I think will depend on what happens now. If there’s a quick resumption of democracy, dates for election, elections being held under transparent rules then the impression of a coup will fade. But it’s deeply disappointing One was hoping that the Government elected with 51 per cent of the vote last year would be first elected government in Egypt, the first elected president in Egypt and the first to go to a democratic election. This is very – to serve its term and then go back to the people again. So this is deeply disappointing.

FRAN KELLY: So just to be clear. Does Australia then support this intervention by the military in a democratically elected government?

BOB CARR: We’re not supporting it, we’re not opposing it. We’re saying all sides should show restraint, there should be a credible and peaceful process that restores democratic rule and we need orderly and peaceful processes at work and transparent processes. By that I’d emphasise particularly time for an election and rules for an election that are open and transparent and acceptable to all the sides who compete in that election.

FRAN KELLY: It’s too early yet to see whether there will be an orderly and peaceful process. So far as I understand it the President, Mohamed Morsi is not bowing to the military direction, the road-map as laid out by the head of the army and he is declaring this a military coup. Should President Mohamed Morsi go quickly and quietly here?

BOB CARR: It’s not for us to advise him. I had the honour of meeting him in the middle of last year. I formed the view that he was an Egyptian nationalist, someone who wanted to restore Egypt’s leadership in the region. And certainly some signs in his foreign policy positioning confirmed that. He said to me when I raised the condition of minorities in Egypt, I spoke specifically about the Egyptian Copts that he would be a President for all Egyptians. He was not going to lead an undemocratic or a military state. He was going to lead a civilian government. And I thought it was very important that he fulfil that because if he did, Egypt would have the first government elected by its people and the first government to serve a term and then face the people for re-election. So in that context I find this deeply, deeply disappointing.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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