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A lot more needs to be done in Egypt, says Obama

February 16, 2011 02:50 IST

Expressing satisfaction over the recent developments in Egypt, United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday said that a lot more needs to be done to restore real democracy in the Arab country where popular uprising toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

"Obviously there's still a lot of work to be done in Egypt itself, but what we've seen so far is positive," Obama said at a White House news conference.

"The military council that is in charge has reaffirmed its treaties with countries like Israel and international treaties. It has met with the opposition, and the opposition has felt that it is serious about moving towards fair and free elections," he said.

"Egypt's going to require help in building democratic institutions and also in strengthening an economy that's taken a hit as a consequence of what happened, but so far, at least, we're seeing the right signals coming out of Egypt," he said.

Acknowledging that there are ramifications throughout the region, Obama said: "I think my administration's approach is the approach that jibes with how most Americans think about this region, which is that each country is different, each country has its own traditions, America can't dictate how they run their societies."

He said: "There there's certain universal principles that we adhere to. One of them is, we don't believe in violence as a way of and coercion as a way of maintaining control, and so we think it's very important that in all the protests that we're seeing throughout the region, that governments respond to peaceful protesters peacefully."

The second principle that the US believes in strongly is in the right to express ones opinions and the freedom of speech and freedom of assembly that allows people to share their grievances with the government and to express themselves in ways that, hopefully, will over time meet their needs.

Without revisiting all the events over the last three weeks, Obama said he thinks history will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation in Egypt, that the US was on the right side of history.

"What we didn't do was pretend that we could dictate the outcome in Egypt, because we can't," he said.

"I started talking about reform two weeks or two and a half weeks before Mubarak ultimately stepped down. And at each juncture, I think we calibrated it just about right. We ended up seeing was a peaceful transition, relatively little violence, and relatively little if any anti-American sentiment or anti-Israel sentiment or anti-Western sentiment. That testifies to the fact that, in a complicated situation, we got it about right," Obama said.

"My message to demonstrators going forward is your aspirations for greater opportunity, for the ability to speak your mind, for a free press, those are absolutely aspirations we support. As was true in Egypt ultimately what happens in each of these countries will be determined by the citizens of those countries," said the US President.

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