El-Sisi’s Berlin trip: Game-changer for Morsi death sentence?

After former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsiand’s death sentence was announced last Saturday, initial reactions came in quickly.
There was the deep concern as expressed by US President Barack Obama, yet as a matter of fact it had been Turkey first and Amnesty International second that were both remarkably outspoken in leading the way as critics of this absolutely unacceptable verdict.
Soon thereafter it came thick and fast. Twenty-four hours later Federica Mogherini, the EUand’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, stated, and”The court decision to seek the death penalty andhellip was taken at the end of a mass trial that was not in line with Egyptand’s obligations under international lawand” (Al Jazeera online on May 17, EU and US denounce Morsi death sentence). This was followed three days later with an announcement by Speaker of the German parliament (Bundestag) Norbert Lammert that he would not meet with current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi upon the occasion of his visit to Berlin in early June.
And this visit on June 3 and 4 could become a game-changer. I will come back to this point towards the end of my article.
Please allow me to very briefly revisit a piece I had penned on March 24, thus only two months ago, about a large-scale international bankers and investorsand’ conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh I had had a chance to meet one of the participants and learn more about why el-Sisi had invited this elite club of financiers to Egypt: much-needed foreign direct investment, FDI! My stern warning, however, was that only inking lucrative deals and bringing money into Egypt is not enough democracy, free and fair elections, civil society and human rights must be provided by the host government in return. I called it a carrot-and-stick approach. Apparently my optimism, at least for now, was not rewarded.
Egypt needs both massive amounts of FDI and equally large sums stemming from incoming tourism revenue. Then it must begin to more justly distribute this newly acquired wealth amongst all its citizens. Unemployment is high and many young university graduates are without a job, too. No country of the 21st century can exist as an isolated entity and hope to sort out all these problems without international cooperation and support. And for this you need to promote yourself as a democratic, modern state, not just a faandcade for ruling with an iron fist. And unfortunately in the case of Egypt, this simply has not gone in the right direction, not at all.
Returning to the criticism voiced from Ankara vis-andagrave-vis the sentence, it was encouraging to see that both the government and major opposition agreed on the issue as it was President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who had first spoken up against Morsiand’s death sentence. It shows that it is possible to have conservative and social democrat office holders unite in arguing against capital punishment. After all, the abolishment of the death penalty in Turkey became a cornerstone for beginning its formal EU membership accession process.
And speaking up against that very sentence should be at the top of the agenda in another country very soon: On June 3 and 4 el-Sisi is due to travel to Germany for an official state visit. Despite the rejection of a meeting by Lammert as I mentioned above, both President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel have not changed protocol.
Once bitten, twice shyandhellip dare I reluctantly suggest another carrot-and-stick approach? On June 2 Egyptand’s court is scheduled to announce the formal verdict. Will the death sentence be revoked? Will international condemnation help or be seen as external influencing? The next morning el-Sisi starts his Berlin program. Can Germanyand’s leaders voice concern before his arrival and before that crucial June 2? Or in the hopefully avoidable aerse scenario can they in a last-minute effort convince el-Sisi in person to at once allow an appeals process with a clear view to overturn the death verdict? And let us not forget what Mogherini demands: an end to unfair mass trials anyway.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman