Turkey to keep low profile at Egypt-hosted Gaza meeting

Turkey to keep low profile at Egypt-hosted Gaza meeting

Sevil Erkuş ANKARA
Turkey to keep low profile at Egypt-hosted Gaza meeting

A Palestinian boy waves a flag as he stands on the rubble of his family house while waiting for Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to tour destroyed houses in an area east of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, Oct. 9. AP Photo

Turkey is set to keep a low profile at a donors’ conference for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip hosted by Egypt on Oct. 12, with only a general director from the Foreign Ministry participating in the conference.

The meeting is officially at the level of foreign ministers, but Turkey will not send its Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğu due to the ongoing feud between Ankara and Cairo, which intensified due to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks at the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September, in which he questioned whether the global summit was a place where those who “plot coups” are allowed to speak, slamming Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s appearance.

“The United Nations, as well as the democratic countries, have done nothing but watch events such as the overthrow of the elected president in Egypt and the killings of thousands of innocent people who wanted to defend their choice. The person who carried out this coup is being legitimized,” Erdogan said at the time.

His comments prompted Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri to cancel a planned meeting with Çavuşoğlu on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

Mohammed Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, had close ties with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and Ankara has emerged as one of the fiercest international critics of Morsi’s removal from power by the Egyptian military.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sept. 29 accusing Turkey of interfering in Egypt’s domestic affairs and strongly denounced Erdoğan’s address to the U.N. General Assembly.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded with a statement on Sept. 30 accusing Cairo of carrying out “undemocratic acts” and vowing that its criticism would continue “if the Egyptian administration does not take steps toward democracy, freedom and equality.”

In the frosty atmosphere after the ousting of Morsi last summer, Egypt and Turkey reciprocally declared their respective ambassadors as personae non gratae and reduced their level of diplomatic representation.