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Egypt: Introduction

Egypt: Introduction

From the ancient Pyramids to the Aswan High Dam, Egypt has long held a position as both a historically prominent civilization and a great influence in Middle Eastern and African affairs. Up to the present day, the country has maintained a politically significant presence in the region, such as its role in the Arab Spring as well as its regionally powerful diplomatic position regarding Israel. Economically speaking Egypt has, over the past 30 years embarked on massive reforms following the highly centralized economy of President Nasser, which initially had a very positive effect on the stock market. The plan required heavy subsidization of key industries however, which has created a heavy budget deficit for the nation, placing greater strain on its already unstable economy. With a stagnant domestic economy and current political upheaval, it is difficult for the state to raise living standards for the average citizen.

In January 2007, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs established the Department of Public Diplomacy, the aim of which was to create an interactive bond between the Ministry and the public on three levels: local, regional and international. The department concerns itself not only with the activities of the Ministry in political, economic and cultural aspects, but also in the public service field.

Egyptian Public Diplomacy emphasizes the evolving role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the field of public service. It performs this task through three different methods: direct meetings with the public, communications through the media, and the internet. Indeed, Egypt has long placed importance on developing an educated diplomatic corps. The Institute for Diplomatic Studies, created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1966, cultivates young Egyptian diplomats in all areas of the political world, including cultural diplomacy issues.

As a major participant of the Middle East region, Egypt also recognizes its deep affiliation with the entire African continent, and sponsors several major cooperative initiatives to maintain these connections. Established in 1981, the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation in Africa aims to contribute to the socio-economic development of other African countries through the transfer and exchange of knowledge, skills and expertise as well as supporting the capacity building efforts of technical and human resources. The Fund offers professional training and exchanges for development experts, and coordinates relief programs throughout the region. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also recognizes the organisation as pivotal in the implementation of Egyptian foreign policy.

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