Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday addressed the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly, where he stressed the significance of his visit as “Egypt’s first democratically elected civilian president.”
In his speech, Morsi asserted that Egyptians share a renewed sense of self-confidence following the creation of a post-revolution state “based on rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights.”
Morsi, however, asserted that this newfound self-confidence was a product of longstanding struggles and authentic national movements that had demanded a life of “pride and dignity for all its citizens.”
Morsi stressed the centrality of the Palestinian national struggle, through which the Palestinian people had spent decades attempting to restore their full rights and attain an independent state with Jerusalem (Al-Quds) as its capital.
He laid the blame for failures in this regard on the international community, noting that a member of the international community – in a reference to the Tel Aviv regime – continued to deny the rights of a nation that had for years pined for its independence.
“I call for immediate and significant steps to put an end to the colonisation, settlement activities and alteration of the identity of occupied Jerusalem,” Morsi declared.
He further called upon UN member states to lend support to the Palestinians, as they had supported revolutions in the Arab world.
Morsi, however, asserted his commitment to international agreements to which Egypt is signatory, in a reference to Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
“The Syrian people, dear to our hearts, deserve a future of freedom and dignity,” which, Morsi stressed, was the “essence” of the initiative he proposed in Mecca one month ago.
He highlighted the recent initiative launched in Cairo earlier this month – based on an “Islamic Quartet” including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran – which aims to put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and provide them with the opportunity to freely choose the regime that would represent them in post-Assad Syria.
He added that Egypt was committed to supporting the mission of the new joint UN-Arab League representative Lakhdar Al-Ibrahimi and to exerting efforts aimed at unifying the Syrian opposition to allow a steady and democratic transfer of power.
Morsi also said efforts must be exerted by the international community to settle differences currently seen between neighbouring Sudan and the newly-established state of Southern Sudan.
He also said that the recent election of Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamed, represented a “positive step towards unity and stability.”
Morsi further stressed the need to support the African continent in boosting development and economic growth by restoring its wealth, which, he said, had been “pilfered over consecutive eras.”
Morsi further emphasised the need of all states of the Middle East and North Africa region to sign on to and ratify the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“I say it very clearly: the only solution is to get rid of nuclear weapons, and all weapons of mass destruction,” he said, calling for “international efforts” to achieve a nuclear weapons-free Middle East by the end of the current year.
He also, however, stressed the right of all nations in the region to peacefully use nuclear energy within the framework of international obligations and treaties.
Israel remains the only country in the region that has not ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Morsi went on to warn that “the international system cannot be repaired as long as we continue to apply double standards,” in reference to the recent crisis over an anti-Islam film that mocked Islam’s Prophet Mohamed and alienated Muslims around the world.
The Egyptian president’s visit to the US comes in the wake of recent turbulence in US-Egypt relations, following angry demonstrations at the US embassy in Cairo earlier this month.
“These practices have become pervasive enough that they now carry the term ‘Islamophobia’,” he said, adding that the international community must work together to combat extremism, discrimination and incitement to hatred on the basis of religion or race.
He added that a “firm stance” must be adopted to counter the kind of religious intolerance and hatred manifested by the controversial film.
Morsi concluded his speech by stressing the need to review economic policies and practices, in light of recurrent financial and economic crises that have recently plagued the global financial system.
“There is a need for new global economic governance centred on the people, which would consolidate cooperation between development partners on the basis of mutual benefits and interests,” he said.
Morsi concluded by saying that the vision he had laid down for General Assembly members was shared by the Egyptian people, and that, therefore, the international community was obliged to seriously address the issues raised therein.