Thaw in Cairo-Ankara relations fills experts with hope

Update Thaw in Cairo-Ankara relations fills experts with hope
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Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) meets with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Cairo (AFP)
Update Thaw in Cairo-Ankara relations fills experts with hope
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Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu give a joint press conference after their meeting in Cairo on March 18, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 19 March 2023

Thaw in Cairo-Ankara relations fills experts with hope

Thaw in Cairo-Ankara relations fills experts with hope
  • Said presidents Erdogan and El-Sisi would meet
  • The two countries have been at odds in recent years over Libya

CAIRO: Egypt and Turkiye took another step towards improving their relations on Saturday when Ankara’s top diplomat visited Cairo for the first time since ties were ruptured a decade ago and held talks with his Egyptian counterpart.

At a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said talks had been “honest, deep and transparent.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “I’m very glad that we are taking concrete steps for normalizing relations with Egypt ... We will do our best not to rupture our ties again in future.”

Shoukry added, “There is a political will and directives from the presidents of both countries when they met in Doha ... to launch the path toward a full normalization of relations.”

He was referring to a brief meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Qatar World Cup, where they shook hands.

Cavusoglu’s visit follows a trip last month by Shoukry to Turkiye in a show of solidarity after the devastating earthquake that claimed tens of thousands of lives in the country and in neighboring Syria.

“It is possible that we will disagree in the future, but we will do everything to avoid breaking our relations again,” Cavusoglu said.

Relations ran into trouble after the 2013 ouster of Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi, an ally of Turkiye.

Cavusoglu said the meeting between Erdogan and El-Sisi would take place “after the Turkish elections.” The presidential vote is scheduled for May 14.

Mamdouh Al-Saghir, a specialist in foreign affairs, told Arab News: “The visit of the Turkish foreign minister is a tribute from Turkiye for the assistance provided by Cairo following the devastating earthquakes that struck Turkiye last month. Also, President El-Sisi called Erdogan following the tragedy.

“In November last year, Cavusoglu announced that Turkiye might reappoint its ambassador to Egypt in the coming months, indicating further steps toward normalization between the two countries.”

Arab political affairs expert Ahmed Kamal said: “The discussions between Shoukry and Cavusoglu confirm that bilateral relations will become even stronger than before.

“Turkiye’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders was one of the sensitive issues between the two countries. But, after Ankara cut the Brotherhood’s organizational and movement capabilities things cooled off, which might enable the two countries to restore relations at a better level than before,” he continued.

“I also expect them to discuss the new alliances in the region, especially after the thaw in Iranian-Saudi relations, and the important effects (that could) have in the Middle East,” Kamal added.

“Turkiye’s support for many terrorist organizations has become a thing of the past. Cairo-Ankara trade relations, which were not interrupted during the years of tension, can now become bigger and more fruitful,” Kamal concluded.

Abeer Hamdy, a writer specializing in international economic affairs, told Arab News: “Political coordination between Turkiye and Egypt is important, but trade cooperation is much more important.

“Turkiye appreciates many distinguished Egyptian products and the opposite is also true. There are more prospects for economic improvement, especially during the phase of calm between the two countries. This is what the leaders will discuss behind closed doors, specifically issues related to gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean region,” Hamdy continued.

She added: “This rapprochement will encourage Egypt to expand its trade relations with Turkey. Over the past 15 years, the volume of trade exchange between the two countries has more than doubled.”

As part of that tentative reconciliation, Ankara asked Egyptian opposition TV channels operating in Turkiye to moderate their criticism of Egypt.

Last month, Egyptian FM Shoukry visited Turkiye in a show of solidarity after the massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkiye and Syria.

Last month, Egypt’s government, which has been struggling to manage an acute shortage of foreign currency, said Turkish companies had committed to $500 million in new investments in Egypt.