Ankara sees rift over Morsi visit

Ankara sees rift over Morsi visit

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Ankara sees rift over Morsi visit

Eygptian President Morsi’s visit fuels the friction between the PM and president. AFP photo

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s one-day visit to Turkey has caused a minor rift between the presidency and the prime ministry due to the latter’s insistence upon inviting the Egyptian leader to the ruling party’s convention on Sunday, which nixed presidential plans to host him for a state visit, Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

President Abdullah Gül would have preferred to host Morsi as the best way to honor his and the Egyptian people’s democratic struggle against Hosni Mubarak’s regime on behalf of the Turkish state. Officials from the two countries had discussed a possible visit by Mursi to Turkey in October, but his acceptance to join the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) convention altered this plan.
Morsi’s brief stay in Ankara will include a working dinner with Gül, and it’s not yet sure whether a meeting with Turkish businessmen will be possible on Sunday. He is expected to leave Turkey late Sunday, although his schedule has not been finalized yet.

Morsi will meet with Erdoğan at the AKP’s headquarters, and is likely to deliver a speech at the convention in which he will express his country’s thanks and appreciation for the support Turkey lent Egypt during the Tahrir Square revolution. Morsi’s expressing his appreciation to the Turkish people via a political-party convention seems to be the basis of the presidency’s disturbance.

Because Morsi’s plans have changed, both countries’ diplomats are now discussing Prime Minister Erdoğan’s making a visit to Cairo possibly in October and a presidential visit to Egypt before the end of this year, if Gül’s health condition allows him to travel. Erdoğan and Morsi were scheduled to meet in New York during the United Nations’ General Assembly, but were not able to due to Erdoğan’s last minute cancelation of his trip there.

Leaders’ summit canceled

Erdoğan’s absence in New York also caused Morsi to cancel a meeting between Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabi and Egypt on the Syria crisis. The quartet of Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia arose from an initiative spearheaded by Egypt, whose new president is looking to make his mark with what he has described as a balanced foreign policy.

“There was supposed to be a meeting this week, but due to the absence of the Turkish prime minister it’s now canceled,” presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters late on Tuesday. Instead, foreign ministers from the four countries were scheduled to meet over a working dinner in New York.

Saudi Arabia stayed away from the quartet’s last meeting, which Cairo hosted on Sept. 17. Saudi Arabia’s decision was seen by diplomats and Western officials as a reaction to the presence of Shiite Iran, the Sunni kingdom’s major rival. Iran is the only state in the quartet that is an allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and has accused Saudi Arabia and Turkey of helping the rebels who are fighting to topple him.