Egyptian people do not conflict with Turkey, Erdoğan says
The people of Egypt do not conflict with Turkey, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said amid recent diplomatic contacts between Ankara and Cairo.
“I do not think that the Egyptian people will contradict us at this point,” Erdoğan said at a joint news conference with members of the Presidential Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Turkish capital Ankara on March 17.
“The steps taken now are actually temporary, it seems to me as a manifestation of wrongdoing,” noted Erdoğan, referring to recent thawing in relations between Turkey and Egypt.
Highlighting Ankara’s decisive position on the eastern Mediterranean issue, Erdoğan said his country will not step back from it.
He said Turkey is in a decision-making position in the region and “its determined stance remains the same.”
No concessions are possible for Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, he added.
The Turkish president also noted that Saudi Arabia has requested a supply of Turkish military drones.
But Erdoğan also voiced his displeasure at the kingdom’s decision to conduct joint air exercises with Turkey’s longstanding rival Greece, suggesting that an agreement on drones depended on Riyadh’s future conduct.
“Saudi Arabia is conducting joint exercises with Greece,” Erdoğan told a press briefing.
“Yet at the same time, Saudi Arabia is asking us for armed drones. Our hope is to solve this issue calmly, without getting heated,” he added.
Turkey has emerged as one of the world’s premier makers of armed drones, which helped ally Azerbaijan make sweeping gains in a six-week war with Armenia last year over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Riyadh already has a technology transfer agreement with Turkey’s private Vestel company that allows Saudi Arabia to manufacture its own military drones.
But there is widespread speculation that it is also seeking military armed deliveries that could circumnavigate arms embargoes some Western countries have imposed for its military campaign in Yemen.
Erdoğan has made efforts in the past few months to mend Turkey’s relations with regional rivals across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.
Ties between the two deteriorated sharply when Turkey came out in support of Qatar in its 2017 dispute with Saudi Arabia and coalition of countries that included Egypt.
But Turkey said last week it had diplomatic contacts with Egypt for the first time since 2013, as well as making several conciliatory gestures toward Riyadh.