TOBB business group tells Turkish PM it will visit Egypt amid signs of thaw
Hacer Boyacıoğlu/Gizem Karakış – ANKARAA delegation of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) will visit Egypt, the business group’s head has told Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, amid rumors of a diplomatic thaw between Ankara and Cairo.
TOBB head Rifat Hısarcıklıoğlu and members of the group’s board visited Yıldırım to congratulate the new premier on his post, during which it said it would soon visit Egypt, with which Turkey currently has strained ties.
Relations between Ankara and Cairo ruptured in 2013 after the military, led by then defense minister and now president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, ousted the elected President Mohamed Morsi, a move heavily by criticized by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“We have already been to Egypt. God willing we will soon go back [to Egypt] as the TOMM administration. The date has not yet been set,” said Hisarcıklıoğlu after meeting with Yıldırım.
After moving to ease ties with Israel and Russia at the end of June, Turkish government officials recently hinted that steps to ease relations with Egypt could be also taken.
AKP deputy leader Şaban Dişli said on July 6 that Ankara would soon send a team to Egypt to discuss ways to break ice with Cairo.
One day earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said steps taken for possible reconciliation with Egypt would be “different” than the processes that saw Turkey begin to thaw relations with Russia and Israel.
Meanwhile, Yıldırım stated on July 11 that there were “not many reasons” to continue fighting with any countries in Turkey’s region, including Syria and Egypt, vowing that Ankara would continue to try to improve relations with its neighbors.
On the same day, government spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said Turkey had not taken any official or unofficial steps to normalize its ties with Egypt, calling on the Egyptian government to examine its anti-democratic actions against political prisoners.
Turkey and Israel announced on June 27 that they had agreed on the restoration of diplomatic ties after a six-year rupture, while on the same day Russia said Erdoğan had extended an apology letter expressing regret to Russia over the downing of a warplane in November 2015.
Speaking after meeting the prime minister, Hisarcıklıoğlu said TOBB’s main focus regarding economic diplomacy would be Russia and Israel.
“After [improving economic ties with Russia and Israel], [the next goal] will be improving ties with the EU and developing them,” said Hisarcıklıoğlu, adding that Palestine was another focus point for the TOBB.