RIGA - The situation in the Gaza Strip represents a significant challenge to Egypt's national security, Latvian Ambassador to Egypt Andris Razans told Latvian Television this morning.
Looking at the situation in Gaza from the Egyptian point of view, people are following the conflict and the government is very actively trying to bring some changes to stabilize the situation, Razans explained. He pointed out that Egypt is a giant in the Arab world with a huge population, a strong armed forces, but at the same time Egypt has always tried to play the role of a politically stabilizing partner in the region.
At present, Egypt is in a very fragile region in political and security terms. Looking south, there are problems in Sudan, to the west in Libya, to the north in the Gaza Strip. These are security problems that Egypt is counting on and trying to mitigate. Egypt has already faced the problems of regional terrorism for at least the last decade, while the fight against terrorism has been one of Egypt's absolute priorities, the Ambassador explained.
Egypt's economic situation is also currently facing difficult choices: the country has signed a cooperation agreement with the World Monetary Fund, and Egypt needs to make significant structural changes, opening up its economy to investors. These are very complex problems which, in the context of what is happening in the region, the Egyptian Government is trying to actively address. "What is happening in Gaza is a major challenge," the Ambassador said.
Razans explained that daily life in Egypt has not changed significantly, except that the public is very active in following along what is happening in Gaza, which means that there has been an increase in the expression of public opinion in the form of protests, and that the Gaza conflict is seen in Egypt over a much longer period of time.
Humanitarian aid from Egypt has started to flow into Gaza and there have already been three convoys, Razans said, There are a number of factors affecting the arrival of humanitarian aid in the region - the situation in Gaza is very tense, both militarily and politically, so the shipments are not going as fast as one would like. Egypt is approaching this process very responsibly. For Egypt, what is happening in the Gaza Strip is a matter of national security and the country believes that the situation in Gaza cannot be resolved by military force alone for lasting peace - everything is based on the Palestinian right to self-determination and their own state.
Razans said that around 50 Latvian nationals could be living in Egypt, either having families or running businesses. These people are concerned about what is happening in Gaza, but no one has approached the embassy for assistance.