Turkey, Egypt normalization talks were ‘positive’: Turkish FM
Normalization talks in Cairo were “positive,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said, noting that these exploratory discussions between Egypt and Turkey might be followed by a meeting between the foreign ministers in the future.
“Our friends discussed bilateral relations and what could be done about it,” Çavuşoğlu said on May 6, speaking to the TRT broadcaster.
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal and Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Ambassador Hamdi Sanad Loza chaired the two-day exploratory talks, marking the first political consultations between the two sides since mid-2013.
Discussions will continue on the steps that can be taken to normalize relations in the upcoming period, he stated.
Emphasizing that both parties will evaluate the outcome of the two-day meeting, Çavuşoğlu said, “We will exchange views together on what steps can be taken later.”
“We always say that Egypt will also profit from cooperation over here. When the relations improve to that level, we will discuss them as well for sure,” he added.
The minister recalled that he had been in contact with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, for various occasions before, such as meetings of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Syrian Support Group.
He said Shoukry had called him for Ramadan greetings and that Çavuşoğlu himself called the Egyptian foreign minister after a ship accident.
“The discussions were frank and in-depth. They addressed bilateral issues as well as several regional issues, in particular the situation in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and the need to achieve peace and security in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on May 6.
Following these talks in Cairo, Turkey and Egypt are expected to continue dialogue on a road map to be agreed on. This includes exchanging ambassadors and launching talks on bilateral and regional matters.
Egypt and Turkey have been at loggerheads since a military coup staged by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi toppled Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013. Turkey strongly condemned the coup and slammed el-Sisi, who later became the head of Egypt. Cairo expelled Turkey’s ambassador while 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.
The efforts to normalize ties between the two countries started last year through a dialogue established by the intelligence services of the respective countries.
Egypt recently announced holding a tender for hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean by recognizing the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) demarcated by Turkey - a move that Ankara welcomed.
The two countries exchanged positive signals on establishing contacts and dialogue, including the possibility of holding talks to demarcate their maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean.