Egypt's Foreign Minister on
U.S.-Middle East Peace Initiative:
"Powell's Proposal is the Epitome of Idiocy"
In a speech delivered on December 12, 2002, U.S. Secretary of State Colin
Powell described the U.S.-sponsored Partnership Initiative as a plan which
seeks to advance the Middle East's ability to educate and democratize its
citizenry, and to widen its participation in the global economic system.
These types of reform, Powell stated, must come from within, as "only Middle
Eastern engagement will sustain [them]."
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad
Maher strongly criticized the initiative in an interview with the Egyptian
The following are excerpts from the interview:
"Powell's proposal is the epitome of idiocy. What aroused ridicule is that
for a long time now Egypt has been carrying out democratic development, and
has [even] had many achievements in this area. We are not saying that we
have established the ideal democratic state, because no one has, including
America and Europe, but we have instituted change in all areas. We have
progressed greatly in education, girls' education, women's rights, and women's status."
"In all these matters, we have needed no one to dictate to us what to do.
There is misapprehension regarding the psychology of peoples; it is natural
for each people and each country to wish to develop by itself. What is
strange is when someone comes from outside in order to dictate development
to the countries and the peoples. If this happened [to us], we would say to
America: 'See to yourself first; see for yourself, since you need a great
deal of development.'"
"We do not need anyone to teach us. Perhaps our democracy is not ideal, but
we have actualized a great deal in this matter, and we continue to progress.
Anyone who wants to help us is welcome [to do so] - provided that he doesn't
think he can teach us [how to do it], or dictate to us what to do. The
choice is ours, and the action is [also] ours. No one can give us dictates."