Egypt keen to learn from Indian democracy: Foreign minister

New Delhi, Dec 5: Egypt would like to take lessons from Indian democracy and adopt these in a way to suit Egyptian society, its Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said here Thursday as the north African country is working on a new constitution.

“We would like to learn from basic principles of Indian democracy, the civil rights, the way power is rotated,” Fahmy said talking to IANS on the sidelines of a lecture at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses here.

“But our model has to have a reflection of Egyptian society,” he said. Egypt went through a period of turmoil after its first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, was ousted in July.

The military-backed interim government has framed a new constitution which was approved by a 50-member citizen committee Sunday. Fahmy, who is on a stand-alone visit to India Dec 4-6, also said the two countries can play a dominant role in shaping a new international order.

“India and Egypt can play a dominant role in shaping a new international order,” Fahmy said delivering his lecture on Developments in Egypt and the Region at the IDSA. He also appreciated India’s strategic stand towards the political changes in Egypt.

Talking about the recent turmoil in the nation, Fahmy said it was the result of the demographic profile, where half of the population is under 25, free flow of information via internet and bad governance. He, however, added that the issue was not about a particular president or government, but about peoples’ aspirations.

“It is not about changing government or president, it is a country trying to define its political identity,” the minister said. Highlighting the importance of India, he said that he chose India as the first destination in his tour of Asia.

Speaking about the drafting of a new democratic’ constitution, by the summer of 2014, the minister expressed hope that the move would strengthen people’s faith in the system of governance in Egypt by political reconciliation and by creating democratic institutions and by getting their economy started.

There is a vacuum in the Middle East and in future Egypt will play a more important role in the region and will act as a bridge between the Arab world and Africa, he said. Egypt is set to hold parliamentary elections between February and March and a presidential vote in early summer.

India and Egypt are among the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement and the two countries shared a very close relationship till the 1960s during the time of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. But the relationship cooled off thereafter and the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak was not marked by close ties.

Egypt-India bilateral trade has risen from $3.2 billion in 2010 to $5.4 billion in 2012. India exports meat, car components and engineering goods to Egypt, and imports cotton, oil and gas and fertilisers.