In what might be his last media appearance before the Egyptian presidential runoff vote on June 16-17, Ahmad Shafiq told Al Arabiya that he would welcome friendly relations with Iran provided they did not proselytize the Shiite faith in Egypt.
Shafiq said that while he wants the entire region to be free from nuclear enrichment, Iran’s nuclear program is not of Egypt’s concern, adding that the current issue is being handled by the world’s larger powers.
“As our region is small, any development of nuclear weapons can affect the security of the whole area, so it is better for us to stay away from this dangerous game,” he stated.
On the Syrian crisis, Shafiq held the government responsible for the security and the lives of the people. Short of calling for the regime to fall, the former prime minister of ousted president Hosni Mubarak said that Syria should reestablish itself as a safe haven for its citizens being killed in large numbers every day.
On his foreign policies should be elected as Egypt’s president, Shafiq said his first diplomatic visit would be to the United States.
He said the world was a unipolar one in which the Americans had a major role to play – a fact that no one could deny. Shafiq also praised the “strategic relations” between Egypt and the U.S. which date back to more than 40 years.
As any discord has the potential of upsetting the region, Shafiq said that the relationship between the two countries must be handled with utmost maturity, for the sake of both parties, not just Egypt.
If elected president, Shafiq said he would look for additional sources of financial support besides the United States, by turning, for example, to the Arab nations.
Speaking about Camp David’s peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Shafiq said both countries ought to respect all aspects of the accord but he raised the possibility of re-negotiating a few aspects of the treaty, only if the two parties agreed to talks.
As for Palestinians and Hamas’ alleged support to his opponent the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi, Shafiq said nothing should affect Egypt’s relation with its Palestinian brothers but he urged a unity among both Palestinian parties so they could create a “Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is to sit just two days before the presidential election to review the legality of the isolation law which threatens Shafiq from running.
Shafiq said he does not see the law of isolation being passed in court.
He ended the interview on an optimistic note, saying that the Egyptian people who revolted on January 25 succeeded, adding that everyone should respect the democratic results of the presidential elections.
“Protesters should abide by the law like in all civilized countries of the world, without destruction of public properties and vandalism,” he said.
“It’s about time Egyptians ended their rivalries and learned the culture of difference and their respect of others’ opinions.”
(Translated by Rana Khoury)