West prefers democracy in Egypt, Germany says

4th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The West should not give the impression that it prefers authoritarian regimes in the Middle East as it worries about regime change in Egypt, Germany's defence minister said Friday.

"In Tunisia, Egypt and in other countries people are rising up and demanding from their regimes more freedom, justice and democracy," Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg said at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

"These are legitimate demands that Europeans and Americans can only support."

But he added: "We should not give the impression on both sides of the Atlantic that as a rule authoritarian regimes or dictatorships are preferable to us than governments chosen in free elections."

While supporting the demands of protestors in Egypt for more civil rights, there are also fears in the West about the direction of any successor regime to President Hosni Mubarak's, particularly over its relations with Israel.

Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with its neighbour three decades ago, has under Mubarak been a key mediator in relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

"The worries of Egypt's neighbours are understandable, particularly Israel's, who in turn need neighbours who want to live in peace with them and do not question their existence," zu Guttenberg said.

"Egypt and Jordan are countries in the region that have peace treaties with Israel. These treaties must remain in place."

© 2011 AFP

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