Turkey, Egypt hold first diplomatic contact since 2013

Turkey, Egypt hold first diplomatic contact since 2013

Turkey, Egypt hold first diplomatic contact since 2013

Turkey on March 12 said it had held its first diplomatic contacts with Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted the country’s former leader Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

“We have contacts both at the level of intelligence and foreign ministries with Egypt. Diplomatic-level contacts have started,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with state-run Anadolu Agency and public broadcaster TRT.

Noting that neither side put forward preconditions, Çavuşoğlu said the ties that were distracted for years could not be restored at once and easily. He said having a lack of trust is also normal in such situations and may occur for both parties.

“For this reason, negotiations take place and continue under a certain strategy, road map,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Turkey’s cooperation with Egypt continues, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 12, expressing will to enhance this dialogue.

“Our cooperation process with Egypt continues in terms of intelligence, diplomacy and economy. There is no problem,” he told reporters after Friday prayers.

The talks with Egypt are not at the highest level now, Erdoğan said, adding that “We want to continue this process with Egypt much stronger.”

“Once this intelligence, diplomatic and political talks have yielded results, we will take this further. There is no question of the Egyptian people and the Turkish nation being separate,” he stated.

Recalling cooperation between Cairo and Athens in the eastern Mediterranean, Erdoğan said, “Placing the Egyptian people next to Greece is out of the question. We would love to see them where they should be.”

“It saddened us that Saudi Arabia entered a joint exercise with Greece,” the president also stressed.

“We will discuss this too, we think this should not have happened,” he added.

Turkish officials have recently been signaling their will to mend ties with Egypt and Gulf countries. It is a very important development that Egypt has made a tender on hydrocarbon explorations in the eastern Mediterranean respecting Turkey’s continental shelf limits, both Çavuşoğlu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar expressed last week.

The Ankara-Cairo relationship was seriously hit by a military coup staged by Sisi in July 2013, as Turkey strongly reacted to the ousting of Morsi with strongly-worded statements from President Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time. Egypt expelled Turkey’s ambassador and Ankara downgraded relations in a tit-for-tat move, further fraying ties.

The two countries also sparred over a range of other issues, including the war in Libya where they backed rival sides, and maritime disputes in the eastern Mediterranean.

Afghan peace process

On the U.S. offer to the Turkish government to host a senior-level meeting between the Afghan government representatives and the Taliban in the coming weeks to finalize a peace agreement, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey had been
involved in the process since the beginning.

“We are one of the few countries invited to this signing ceremony, and we are one of the most important actors in Afghanistan,” he noted.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said Washington intends to ask the U.N. to convene foreign ministers and envoys of Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, and the U.S. to
discuss how to promote peace in Afghanistan.

Turkey is trusted by both parties of the negotiation, Çavuşoğlu said, and noted: “Both the Taliban and the negotiation delegation, meaning the government side, had asked us to host such a meeting before.”

He stressed that Turkey would also appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan to contribute to the process.

Çavuşoğlu added that the meeting will not be an alternative to the Qatar process but will be a supporting one.

“We will do this [meeting] in coordination with brotherly Qatar,” he said, adding that the aim is to make the negotiation continue in a result-oriented manner.

Çavuşoğlu said he believes that Turkey will contribute significantly to the meeting, which is planned to be held in Istanbul in April.