Turkish FM ‘ready to meet’ Egyptian counterpart

Turkish FM ‘ready to meet’ Egyptian counterpart

Turkish FM ‘ready to meet’ Egyptian counterpart

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Egypt must take some positive steps with regard to political prisoners, Turkey’s top diplomat has said, while repeating his readiness to meet with his Egyptian counterpart to discuss political ties. 

“My statement that ‘I am ready to meet with Egypt’ is nothing new. But there is a fact that Egypt cannot go on like this. Egypt has to take positive steps. I can of course talks about these issues with my [Egyptian] counterpart. There is no problem in this,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told TRT in an interview on July 3. 

“Our objective is not to punish and treat Egypt as an enemy. This is out of question. But we note it when there is something wrong,” he said. 

The foreign minister’s statement came upon a question as to whether Turkey’s efforts to repair ties with its neighbors Russia and Israel would be followed by Egypt, with whom bilateral relations deteriorated precipitously after a military coup that ousted the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. 

“We are against military coups wherever they are staged. We always relate our principles. The people of Egypt are our brothers. We want a strong Egypt. We want Egypt to be stable and safe,” Çavuşoğlu said. 
Present-day Egypt is far from all these, he said. “Egypt has to take positive steps with regards to political prisoners and provide stability, unity and togetherness in the country.” 

Although Çavuşoğlu outlined the steps Egypt needs to take on political prisoners, he did not specifically name Morsi, whose life sentence has been strongly criticized by the Turkish government. 

Invitation to Lavrov for meeting in Antalya 

On ties with Russia, Çavuşoğlu said the Turkish and Russian presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin, might meet in person in either late July or early August in a sign of the determination of both sides to quickly repair ties. 

“We’ll make the preparation for this meeting with our ministers. There will be decisions taken on the economy. Our ministers [of energy] will also come together to discuss issues concerning energy,” the minister said. 

Çavuşoğlu said he invited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Antalya for a meeting to discuss political ties before important summits, including the Turkey-Russia High Level Strategic Cooperation slated to be held in Turkey later this year. 

Cooperation with Russia against ISIL

One area of cooperation between the two countries is the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, Çavuşoğlu said. “We’ll make cooperation with everybody against DEASH. We opened our İncirlik base to those who want to actively join the fight against DAESH. Why should not we not engage in the same cooperation with Russia?” 

Daesh is the Arabic acronym for ISIL. 

“This terrorist organization is the enemy of all of us and we should fight against it. Therefore, reviving these [security and intelligence] mechanisms [between Turkey and Russia] is very important for both fighting against terror and avoiding any kind of negative incident. We have agreed on this point as Sergei Lavrov said,” Çavuşoğlu said. 

Lavrov and Çavuşoğlu met in Sochi last week to create a road map for the normalization of bilateral relations, including re-launching military-to-military mechanisms on Syria. 

Turkey downed a Russian warplane for allegedly violating its space along the Turkey-Syria border on Nov. 24, 2015, resulting in a seven-month diplomatic freeze. Erdoğan helped thaw relations by sending a letter to Putin expressing his deep sorrow over the incident.