Egypt’s doors to Gaza wide open to Turkish PM Erdoğan: Egyptian PM

Egypt’s doors to Gaza wide open to Turkish PM Erdoğan: Egyptian PM

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Egypt’s doors to Gaza wide open to Turkish PM Erdoğan: Egyptian PM

Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil (L) responded to questions of Hürriyet Daily News Ankara Bureau Chief Serkan Demirtaş at the Egyptian Consulate in Istanbul. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The doors of Egypt to Gaza are wide open to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Egyptian prime minister has said, noting that Erdoğan had repeated his intention to visit the enclave at the end of this month.

“He [Erdoğan] said he wants to come to Egypt and to go to Gaza. Of course, he’s going to have a very good experience because seeing things live is much different from watching or reading news pieces,” Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil told the Hürriyet Daily News on May 11. Kandil held meetings with President Abdullah Gül and Erdoğan on May 10, when he also attended Turkish-Egyptian Business Forum meeting. Kandil said both countries’ foreign ministries were talking about the dates of Erdoğan’s visit, which is supposed to take place after the prime minister’s appointment with U.S. President Barack Obama on May 16.

Erdoğan is supposed to pass to Gaza from Egypt as the Egyptian prime minister said, “Our doors are going to be wide open for him of course.” Here is an excerpt from the interview with Kandil:

The Syria turmoil is continuing and has impacts on the region. There are also concerns that the crisis in Syria has caused an end to the Arab Spring. Do you share this concern?

I am not sure that what’s going on in Syria does prevent countries from doing their own change.

Because ‘one model fits all’ is not possible. What happened in Egypt was different from Tunisia, and the models of Morocco and Jordan are different. So this is up to each country to decide what to do and it does not necessarily mean that the Arab Spring has stopped. But the nature of Syria is harder than the others. And interventions from outside have impacted this. Unfortunately it will be very difficult to bring this country back to normal even if this fight stops today.

Are Arab countries passive as suggested by some leaders?

Arab countries gave the seat of Syria to the opposition. It was already a bold step toward that. But if you ask me whether the Syrian leaders have crossed the border, yes they crossed the border long ago.

There is a fresh hope for the revival of Israeli-Palestinian talks. Are you also hopeful?

To start talks and to have a chance for success, Palestinian factions first should unite. This is ground zero. Otherwise, it will not work. So, this is the first effort we have done, we are committed to doing more but I have to admit that this has to be the decision of the Palestinian people that they want to reconcile.

This is also related with the Turkish prime minister’s plans to visit Gaza. Have you discussed this issue, because he will need to pass there through Egypt?

Yes, he said [during his meeting on May 10] he wants to come to Egypt and to go to Gaza. Of course, he’s going to have a very good experience because seeing things live is much different from watching it on the news or reading the news. Doors are going to be wide open for him of course.

Have you discussed dates of this visit?

Our foreign ministries are discussing dates, but no certain date has been fixed so far.

Another regional development was Israel’s apology to Turkey. How do you evaluate the development?

This issue has three parts: apology, compensation and lifting the embargo. Turkey should be praised for sticking to its position and everybody will be delighted to see the embargo on our brothers and sisters in Gaza lifted.

Turkey, Egypt present modern Islam

How would normalization of ties between Turkey and Israel affect the region?

Turkey and Egypt are working together very well. The region needs all the efforts to resolve issues. Issues are everywhere. There are a lot of hot points in the region. So, having Turkey on our side in terms of supporting peace and bringing stability for the region, I think we can achieve a lot.

What would be Turkey’s contribution to the regional issues?

Turkey can contribute a lot to all issues in the region. Both countries [Turkey and Egypt] are presenting modern Islam to the world. Turkey and Egypt cooperating, we can bring a lot of added value to the region and to the rest of the world.

You referred both Turkey and Egypt as modern Islam. But everyone’s concept of modern is different. Do you still see Turkey as the model?

As I said, no one model fits all. That’s obvious. Let me bring the women in Egypt and the new Constitution to your attention. There is in the preamble that we mention that women, as sisters, wives and daughters, have to be respected and they have equal rights. After that the Constitution talks only about Egyptian people. It does not talk about man-woman, Muslim or Copt but only Egyptian people.

So adopting this on the ground will take time. It’s not easy. But this is how we want to go about Egypt in the future; regardless of gender, color or religion. Making this model operational will take time but this is how the Egyptian people have decided to go about it. Turkey is a model, but it’s not 100 percent definitely comparable to Egypt back and forth. But we both consider ourselves modern Islam and definitely denounce extremism.

I do not how familiar you are with the government’s efforts to solve the country’s biggest issue, the Kurdish one.

I have an idea but not a detailed one. But this is one of the things I have to praise this government for as it has managed to do something that previous governments could not do for decades. This government’s achievement is not only economic but also political. Everybody who has similar challenges can learn now from Turkey.