Dismayed Egypt ambassador is still hopeful of Turkish ties

Dismayed Egypt ambassador is still hopeful of Turkish ties

Cansu Çamlıbel - Hürriyet
Dismayed Egypt ambassador is still hopeful of Turkish ties

Cairo’s ambassador to Ankara, Salaheldin (R) talks with Turkish FM Davutoğlu. Salaheldin is hopeful of cementing ties between the two ‘brother’ countries. AA photo

Dismayed by the Turkish government’s approach to the latest stage of crisis in Egypt, Cairo’s ambassador to Ankara, Abderahman Salaheldin, has still appeared hopeful of cementing ties between the two “brother” countries. The ambassador did not attend the fast-breaking meal hosted by the Turkish prime minister, but he said he had been in a busy consultation with other senior Turkish officials, including the president and the foreign minister. Calling the tension between the two capitals temporary, Salaheldin also said that the Egyptians who took the streets against the now ousted president were surprised by Ankara’s latest stance. Following is the abridged version of the interview with the ambassador:
Why didn’t you attend the iftar dinner hosted by PM Erdoğan?

I received an invitation and I regret not attending.
The Turkish side probably took it as a negative message.

All of the Turkish officials and politicians […] know how faithful I am to this relationship. I met President [Abdullah] Gül last week. I fully briefed him on the developments in Egypt.
What was the response of President Gül when you briefed him?

He expressed his deepest wishes for Egypt … a safe, peaceful and expedited transition to an elected government. Of course President Gül has a strategic vision of the importance of the relations between Turkey and Egypt. He has always been the champion of this relationship. And you know he was the first head of state to visit Egypt after the revolution.
Did you find President Gül’s approach as rigid as that of the government?

The response was heartfelt wishes for Egypt; a keen interest on the relationship between the two countries [and] a forceful denial that Turkey would even think of interfering with Egyptian domestic affairs. Ironically, it was not the first time I turned to the president… Two and a half years ago in February 2011, I gave him a full briefing and I can say that it worked perfectly. It is not only the president, I have to tell, also other senior government executives and ruling and opposition [parties].
Do you consider what happened in Egypt as a coup?

Let me remind you of what happened in January 2011. The military forced President [Hosni] Mubarak to step down and took over. The whole world, including Turkey, congratulated Egypt for its great revolution. In 2013, almost heartbeat to heartbeat… Yes, President Morsi was elected by the majority of 51 percent, no one denies that. In one year’s time, President Morsi lost the support of those who voted for him.

High expectations

How do you consider the rise of Salafis in Egyptian politics?

The political dispute between the majority that called for the change and the minority of Muslim Brotherhood followers is not about religion. The majority was asking for jobs, better education and health services for their children. Most Egyptians are not going to be fooled again in the name of religion.
Will you able to be convince the Turkish side?

I think it is very useful to remind Turks of these two incidents – January of 2011 and July of 2013. Turkey must not be shown as siding with the minority that happens to be the Brotherhood.
Is the inspirational image of Turkey deteriorating in Egypt?

Yes. We are hearing calls by some writers and intellectuals and even from businessmen for the first time in the history of relations: “We need to have a pause here.” What is Turkey doing, what are these statements? This is the image that I am worried about. The Turkish government had a very positive image that has many admirers across Egypt. I am very worried that this majority of Egyptians who took the streets to ask for a change are surprised to see the Turkish government as standing against it. We are trying to send a message to the investors from both sides: “Don’t worry this is temporary. We call it a summer cloud that will go away.”
How can Ankara and Cairo cement ties while the former says that it only recognizes Morsi as president?

When the Egyptian statement came out few days ago, it was a statement to brothers telling them: “We don’t interfere in your domestic affairs, please don’t interfere in ours.” Of course, every sovereign nation makes its own decisions and there are the consequences of these decisions. The Egyptian people are disappointed because they had very high expectations from Turkey. They thought that Turkey would be the first to welcome the change. This disappointment was reflected by the new Egyptian government in a very brotherly drafted complaint.
Will the Turkish position not change up until Morsi is released?

I hope it will develop in the right direction.
Is it not almost a condition by Turkey?

No one can put conditions on Egyptians on how to deal with their affairs. No Egyptian would accept that, even from brothers. But […] the strategic relationship is very important.
So nobody is planning to summon you back to Cairo?

It is not only me. Believe me there are sensible people in both governments that are helping me to do this. I think they are the majority.

No need for tension with Turkey

CAIRO – Anadolu Agency

There is no need for unnecessary tension with Turkey, Egypt’s interim Prime Minister, Hazem el-Beblawi said yesterday. “Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan doesn’t have enough information about developments related to Egypt. He doesn’t think in the same way as we do on some issues,” he said. “For this reason, we need to give an explanation to him [Erdoğan] about developments in Egypt in order to not allow unnecessary tensions,” he added. “We attach importance to Turkey.”

PM’s Gaza trip not entirely off agenda

Under these circumstances, would there be an exception for the Turkish prime minister to visit Gaza?

As you know, [Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu did not go to Gaza alone, but with a group of Arab ministers. Actually, Prime Minister Erdoğan visited Egypt twice while there was a crisis in Gaza. I cannot rule out that it may happen again.
Was it you requesting the meeting from Davutoğlu?

I asked earlier for the meeting with Davutoğlu but he was away from Ankara at the time. The meeting lasted for over an hour. I presented a full briefing about what was going on in Egypt. The discussion was frank [and] comprehensive.