The Outer

Interview| the Mexican ambassador: We voted against what is happening in Gaza…and Egypt is an important mediator in the region

By Manal El Warraky

Ambassador Leonora Rueda, Mexico’s ambassador to Cairo, said that the relations between Egypt and her country are distinguished. The two countries have a frank dialogue and promising social and economic cooperation, but the cultural and educational field is the cornerstone of bilateral relations.

In her interview, the ambassador confirmed that the flow of investments is a testimony to the mutual trust between the two countries, to create economic and social opportunities between them.

Regarding the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, and what the region is witnessing, the ambassador said that Mexico voted in various international forums against the humanitarian catastrophe occurring in Gaza, noting that her country and Chile have referred the Palestinian situation to the International Criminal Court to investigate the commission of war crimes.

She stressed that Egypt is a pivotal country in the course of events in the region, as it is the link between Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as the role that Egypt played in the current conflicts in Gaza, the Red Sea and its neighboring countries was essential and made it the most important mediator, recognized by all countries of the world, including Mexico. . And to the text of the dialogue..

*In light of recent events, what is Mexico’s position on the Israeli aggression against Gaza?

Mexico pursues a foreign policy based on principles, the main focus of which is strict respect for international law, human rights at the global level, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

For this reason, Mexico has voted in various international forums against the conditions of humanitarian catastrophe that the hostilities in the conflict have reached, especially the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians and the destruction of infrastructure.

Not only did Mexico repeatedly express its concern on many occasions, but it also took some steps in this direction.

*What actions or initiatives has Mexico taken to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza and support those affected?

In addition to making statements and supporting various initiatives to provide relief to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Mexico has implemented some initiatives on its own or in partnership with other countries.

Among the steps we have taken, the most recent was in January 2024, when Mexico and Chile referred the Palestinian situation to the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes, which form part of its jurisdiction.

*..And what is your assessment of the course of the ceasefire negotiations?

Mexico welcomed the ruling of the International Court of Justice on provisional measures, regarding the application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip submitted by South Africa against Israel.

At the same time, Mexico affirms its support for the two-state solution, and considers it the only political, comprehensive and final alternative to the conflict.

I firmly believe that the use of force will never be the basis for lasting and sustainable peace for the development of and among peoples and history has shown this.

*What is Mexico’s position on the tensions taking place in the Red Sea? What is her assessment of the situation?

Mexico is closely following the development of events, especially the attacks and hijackings of ships. Indeed, two crew members of one of the hijacked cargo ships are Mexicans, and the issue is currently being negotiated through diplomatic channels.

Mexico will always condemn those events that endanger the security and lives of civilians who have nothing to do with the conflicts provoked by groups hostile to peace.

*In your opinion, how do recent events affect regional stability?

In my opinion, I believe that the events taking place in the region are definitely negatively affecting the development and growth potential of countries in the region or in surrounding regions.

In the case of Egypt in particular, instability in neighboring countries affects the full utilization, for example, of economic resources that must be made available to care for displaced populations, create infrastructure, and provide health and educational conditions for thousands fleeing to Egypt from conflicts in their country.

*How do you evaluate the role played by Egypt in promoting peace and stability in the Middle East?

Egypt’s strategic geographic location makes it a pivotal country in the course of events in the region, as it is the link between Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

In this context, I believe that the role played by Egypt was essential in creating the appropriate conditions to keep the channels of dialogue and negotiation for peace open.

These circumstances have allowed Egypt’s role as an important mediator in the region to be recognized around the world, including Mexico.

*How do you describe the current state of Egyptian-Mexican relations?

Relations between Mexico and Egypt are distinguished. The two countries have a frank dialogue and promising social and economic cooperation, but the cultural and educational field is the cornerstone of bilateral relations.

The flow of investments on both sides is a testimony to the mutual trust between our two countries, to create economic and social opportunities between the two countries.

*..And what are the main areas of cooperation between the two countries?

Among the most prominent cooperation activities in this field, we find the work carried out by the Mexican archaeological mission over a period of 20 years in the cemetery of Tibana 39 in Luxor, the work of which is expected to be completed in the current year 2024.

*What is the current volume of trade and investment exchange between Egypt and Mexico?

Trade exchange is recording modest rates ($130 million in 2023), but we are working to create conditions to stimulate trade.

Among the most important Mexican exports to Egypt are aluminum pipes, raw materials for the plastics industry, mobile phones, car spare parts, among other products.

Among Mexican imports from Egypt we find cotton clothing and raw materials for fertilizers.

*What are the main sectors or industries for mutual investments between the two countries?

Mexico is proud to be the main investor in Egypt from Latin America and the Caribbean. CEMEX Egypt leads Mexican investments with its participation in many infrastructure projects at the same time as it carries out many activities as part of social responsibility, in cooperation with Egyptian authorities and civil society in projects such as garbage recycling. By the Nile River.

We also find Polymeros Mejicanos in the field of plastics manufacturing, which is working to strengthen its factory in Alexandria, and there are other Mexican companies with joint investments such as Rohrbomben, KidZania and Aqualia.

The number of Egyptian companies in Mexico is also constantly increasing. We find, for example, Pico-Cairon Company, which is an investment between the private sector and the public sector in Mexico, represented by Pemex, in addition to El Sewedy Electrometer Company.

*What about tourism between Egypt and Mexico? Is it back to how it was before?

We have great aspirations for cooperation in the tourism sector with Egypt, as evidenced by the recent meeting, which was held between Dr. Ahmed Issa, the Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, and his counterpart, the Mexican Minister of Tourism, Miguel Torroco, at the Berlin International Tourism Fair.

It should be noted that in 2023, 30,000 Mexican tourists visited Egypt, while 3,000 Egyptians visited Mexico, many of whom reside outside Egypt.

For this reason, we strive to help the Egyptian community learn more about Mexico, a country where they will be amazed to discover the great similarities that exist between our two great ancient civilizations.

*Can you highlight any recent developments or milestones in exchange between the two countries?

In terms of cooperation, as I mentioned previously, the participation of a Mexican archaeological mission stands out, whose work will contribute to enriching the Egyptian cultural heritage to some extent.

Mexico also contributes to cooperation programs with Egypt through specialized agencies in international organizations.

*Is Mexico interested in strengthening partnership with African countries?

Mexico is very interested in strengthening its relations with African countries in a way that contributes to the mutual strengthening of development conditions in our societies.

In this regard, I want to highlight that an important part of the Mexican social component present in the country now has African roots, and this is what prompts the consolidation of the bonds of union that contribute to benefiting from the opportunities available with Africa.

*What about cultural and educational cooperation between Egypt and Mexico?

The program of cultural activities of our Embassy is an essential part of the bilateral relationship between Mexico and Egypt, and this agenda is crystallized through an annual program of cultural activities and promotion covering the most diverse artistic disciplines.

So far, during these last five months, since I began my mission in Egypt, we have held two exhibitions, the first in 2023 on Mexican crafts at the Islamic Museum in Cairo, and the other on pre-Hispanic manuscripts at the Spanish Cervantes Institute in Cairo, which will be open to the public until March 30 of this year.

As is the case every year, next November we will invite the Egyptian public to celebrate the Day of the Dead, an iconic Mexican tradition that forms part of UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage.

On the other hand, we participated in the annual Ibero-American Film Festival with a Mexican film and a photographic exhibition about our traditions and biodiversity, the last edition of which was held at the Library of Alexandria.

Mexico and Egypt are currently working to sign two very important agreements. The first is an executive program for cultural cooperation that expands the spaces, methods and fields of cooperation where our two countries can cooperate to achieve greater cultural exchange. The second is an agreement to protect, preserve, restore and recover cultural property that has been subjected to theft, entry or loss. Illegal extraction.

*What are the existing initiatives or programs to enhance cultural and educational exchange between the two countries?

Likewise, the Government of Mexico, through the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation, launches every year a call for scholarships for foreigners interested in studying in Mexico, at the specialization, master’s, doctoral and postgraduate research levels, as well as the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, allowing undergraduate and postgraduate transfer.

Through this program, hundreds of Egyptians received scholarships from the Mexican government to participate in various educational programs, especially in Spanish literature, engineering, and medicine.

Year after year, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs also launches an invitation to participate in the children’s drawing competition “This is My Mexico” for children between the ages of 6 and 14, and invites boys and girls from all over the world to imagine the country of Mexico and draw their impressions of it. The drawings are sent every year to Mexico, and the first prize winner is invited to a trip to Mexico City.

An Egyptian child won this competition once and we hope that more Egyptian children will win more prizes.

The embassy also held a competition to translate two books by Mexican writers into Arabic, the first being “The Wild Book” by the Mexican writer Juan Fioro, issued by the National Center for Translation, and the second a novel about the recovery of Mayan artifacts entitled “The Time of Retrieval” by the author José Luis Ibarra Jerre.

This year, the competition for translation from Mexican literature into Arabic was held for the second time, and in its first edition it was widely accepted among young Egyptian translators, with the number of participants reaching more than 200.

This competition, held with the National Center for Translation, seeks to enhance the talents of the translation and interpretation sector in Egypt with a prize awarded to Mexican companies.

*Are there any upcoming high-level visits or exchanges between Mexico and Egypt that we can look forward to?

Mexico and Egypt have a political consultation mechanism being developed at the level of deputy foreign ministers, and in 2024, we hope that a high-level visit to Mexico will take place.

We also hope that this year there will be high-level visits from Egypt to Mexico and vice versa, in order to consult in areas such as tourism, benefit from participation in global forums, and hold meetings between the relevant authorities in the two countries within the framework of international meetings.

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