Germany’s opposition parties have criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel for not taking a strong stance against human rights abuses in Egypt during talks with visiting Egyptian coup leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Tom Koenigs, Green Party lawmaker and spokesman on human rights issues, said Thursday that the German government had prioritized economic interests at the expense of human rights in relations with Egypt.

"During the visit, economic contracts were signed but there have been only a few remarks on the human rights situation in Egypt. This shows the priorities of the German government. A foreign policy based on human rights is hardly noticeable here," Koenigs told Anadolu Agency.

El-Sisi’s two-day visit to Germany on Wednesday and Thursday drew widespread criticism among politicians and intellectuals due to reports of human rights abuses in the country. 

The German government has dismissed calls by opposition parties to cancel or postpone the visit of el-Sisi and argued that high-level talks with Egypt’s coup leader would provide an opportunity to also discuss the human rights situation in the country.

During el-Sisi’s visit, Egypt awarded Germany’s technology giant Siemens 8 billion euros worth of contracts to build natural gas and wind power plants. El-Sisi also met with the representatives of the largest German manufacturing companies in Berlin on Thursday.

Despite calls by international human rights organizations to Merkel ahead of the visit, the chancellor refrained from raising the human rights issue in Egypt at a joint press conference with el-Sisi on Wednesday following their talks at the chancellery.

Merkel highlighted the importance of Egypt in the fight against terrorism and stability in the region, and expressed willingness to continue cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and regional security.

She did call on el-Sisi not to carry out death penalties imposed on Muslim Brotherhood leaders and opposition members.

Opposition lawmaker Koenigs criticized the Merkel government's stance towards the regime in Egypt.

"Criticizing only the death sentences in Egypt as Chancellor Merkel has done is not sufficient. As Germany, we also disagree with the U.S. on death penalty, but that has almost no impact on our relations. That made things easier for el-Sisi," Koenigs said.

He warned that the German government’s indirect support to el-Sisi’s policies in Egypt, in the name of stability, would not bring intended goals, but instead was more likely to create more instability in the region.

"Stability in Egypt and in the wider region can only be realized with respect for human rights and inclusion of all relevant groups to the political process. It is human rights violations, which lead to conflicts and destabilization in societies. Chancellor Merkel should have said this at the joint press conference with el-Sisi, before describing Egypt as an anchor of stability in the region," he said.

Christine Buchholz, Left Party lawmaker and spokeswoman on defense matters, sharply criticized both Merkel and the German president Joachim Gauck for receiving el-Sisi.

"The reception of el-Sisi in Berlin has further encouraged the Egyptian regime to continue its policy of repression against the opposition. The German government gave completely the wrong signal,” Buchholz told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

 “The German government seeks to enhance economic cooperation with Egypt," she added. "That is for profit of course. But it is at the same time a political decision. It is one of a series of measures supporting the Egyptian regime, such as cooperation between secret services and police forces of the two countries. The German government makes itself complicit in the consolidation of a regime that tramples most basic human rights.”

Leading international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, had urged Merkel on Monday to raise human rights violations with el-Sisi and demand the release of all prisoners detained in what they deem to be politically motivated trials.

The groups said that at least 41,000 people were detained between July 2013 and May 2014 in Egypt. Amnesty said more than 742 death sentences have been passed against alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters since Morsi was overthrown.

Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in mid-2013 by the Egyptian army, which was headed at the time by el-Sisi.

Anadolu Agency