And Egypt walked out…

A couple of years ago, during a statement by Iran, the EU attempted a walkout from the NPT Review Conference. They didn’t announce it, they didn’t coordinate it too well (some EU members never actually left the room), and they didn’t leave for the rest of the conference. However, they did set a tone and an unconstructive example for what happened this afternoon – when Egypt left the rest of the NPT Prepcom today.

Egypt was the final speaker for this afternoon’s session in Cluster II specific issues: Regional issues, including with respect to the Middle east and implementation of the 1995 Middle East Resolution. During their statement, they made it abundantly clear- Egypt “cannot continue to attend meetings and agree on outcomes that do not get implemented, yet to be expected to abide by the concessions we gave for this outcome.”

In some ways, Egypt has a point. They point out how the planned conference on establishing a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East was not held as promised in 2012. They mention how they have prepared, with other Arab states, a working paper outlining their “vision concerning all procedural and substantive issues.”. What the Egyptian delegation failed to comment on in their statement is what exactly they expected before the conclusion of this meeting- what they expected to get during the week they spent engaging and listening.

One can wander the halls around the Palais and speculate wildly this afternoon. Surely this walkout will be the hot topic at tonight’s reception at the Japanese mission. However, when it comes to sitting down and talking through the issues of concern- one could also ask Egypt why it didn’t just consult with others in the region and set a date for at least a preparatory meeting itself. Egypt could have invited the named facilitator- Ambassador Laajaava. It could have reached out as a state that does have diplomatic relations with all others in the region and invited people to come together itself. Of course, that would have precluded any theatrics in the Assembly Hall.