Nabil Fahmy Speaks about Egypt’s Foreign Policy at the Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture

Nabil Fahmy
Nabil Fahmy

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy delivered the Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture, “Foreign Policy for New Egypt: Beyond Ballots and Politics,” which addressed the challenges facing Egypt’s reform and role in the region. 

“There is no doubt that we are witnessing a birth of a new Egypt,” said Fahmy to a full-house of attendees at AUC New Cairo on Monday, March 3, including AUC students, faculty and staff, as well Nadia Younes’ family members and friends. “Egypt needs to shape the regional environment … its leadership role is not a choice or the luxury of national pride, it is imperative for a better future,” added Fahmy, who emphasized Egypt’s position as the intellectual beacon of the region. 

Fahmy identified three goals for Egypt’s foreign policy: defending the revolution in its larger sense; making the center of gravity of its foreign policy the Middle East and Africa; and preparing the foreign ministry for the future. According to Fahmy, the main challenge Egypt is facing is enacting reform in a democratic setting that still resonates with revolutionary fervor. “A fundamental restructure of Egypt requires elements of continuity and of change, and Egypt must diversify its portfolio of strategic economic relationships,” he explained, adding that the overriding strategy for Egyptian foreign policy is closely related to Egypt’s economic needs and political priorities.

A close friend of Nadia Younes, Fahmy was the founding dean of AUC’s School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP).  When asked if he can compare his job as dean of GAPP and that as foreign minister, Fahmy explained that in both situations “he was tasked with building something.” As dean, he was challenged four years ago with a new environment, where he had to build an entire school. As minister, he was “handed the job at a time when Egypt is trying to redefine itself. The world is changing and we have to determine our foreign policy.” 

Established in 2004, the Nadia Younes Memorial Fund was established in memory of Nadia Younes, who was killed in the bombing of the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad on August 19, 2003, while she was serving as chief of staff to Sergio Vieira de Mello. The Nadia Younes Memorial Fund supports an annual lecture, the Nadia Younes Conference Room in the Model United Nations Center and the Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service, which rewards a graduating senior for commitment to public service. “When we conceived of the idea nine years ago for this memorial lecture, we wanted to honor her memory in an inspiring and productive way,” said Nahed Younes, Nadia’s sister, who delivered a message of thanks to the many donors supporting the Nadia Younes Memorial Fund.

Since 2005, the Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture has brought numerous renowned international figures to AUC including Kofi Annan (2005), former secretary-general of the United Nations; Dr. Bernard Kouchner (2006), former French foreign minister and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders); Mary Robinson (2007), first female president of Ireland; Sir Jeremy Greenstock (2008), former British ambassador to the United Nations and Britain’s former special envoy for Iraq; Amre Moussa (2009), former secretary-general of the League of Arab States; Gro Harlem Bruntlandt (2012), former prime minister of Norway and former head of the World Health Organization; and Nabil Elaraby (2013), current secretary-general of the League of Arab States.