From 14-18 October 2013, EPD hosted and organised the visit of the Director and the Programme Manager of its Egyptian partner organisation Better Life Association for Comprehensive Development to Brussels and The Hague. Since 2011, Better Life and EPD have been cooperating on the project “Supporting local democracy in Upper Egypt”, which is implemented in the framework of the Press Freedom 2.0 Programme funded by the Dutch MFA.
In Brussels, we accompanied our colleagues from Egypt to meetings with representatives from the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Development Cooperation Directorate of the European Commission. The main objective of the meetings was for Better Life to get a clearer understanding of the EU’s priorities in supporting the democratic transition in Egypt and to inform the EU about the current situation in Upper Egypt.
The discussions focused on the need for the Egyptian authorities to review the law regulating the work of NGOs in Egypt. This is a crucial issue, as currently many NGOs cannot use funding from abroad to implement projects focused on human rights and democracy.
Better Life also had the opportunity to present its projects and present their insights on the current political and economic situation in Egypt during a Working Meeting at the EPD office. Participants included representative of the European Commission, EU Member States, civil society organisations and researchers. One of the issues that was under discussion was the difficulty of doing advocacy in a region were most inhabitants are neither aware of their rights, nor informed about the political situation.
In Minya, which is the home base of Better Life, political awareness is very low and people easily confuse the concept of the secular state with a state that is against religion. Furthermore, there were interesting discussions on different visions of democracy and on what measures should be taken by the international community to address the most urgent needs of Egyptians, such as supporting economic growth and promoting dialogue after the recent wave of violence that swept the country.
The delegation also took part in the launch event “Political Party Dialogue: A facilitator’s guide”, which was organised by EPD, the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights (OCPHR).
For information on the Hague visit, please click here.
For information on democratic changes in Egypt, please follow this link to the article of our colleagues from Freedom House.