Turkey hopes to mend Egyptian relations following Israel deal
Turkey's prime minister has said strained relations with Egypt could soon be resolved, following his country's recent announcement of the restoration of diplomatic ties with Israel.
Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday that Turkey was ready to restore relations with Egypt, a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologised to Russia for the downing of a Russian military jet last November.
"There is no obstacle in terms of commerce. Maybe there will be a ground in the future for normalisation. Relations could even start at the ministerial level. We are ready for it," Yildirim said during a live interview with Turkish media.
"We are in the same region as Egypt. We cannot cut off all relations even if we wanted to. We have a geographical tie and proximity."
The PM, however, reiterated Turkey's opposition to the 2013 military coup that ousted Egypt's first freely elected president Islamist Mohammad Morsi from power.
"Democracy [in Egypt] has been subject to a coup. Democracy received a blow. Morsi, who took the office through an election, was forced to lay down his office through a coup," he added.
|Erdogan is closely aligned with Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood [Getty]|
Diplomatic ties between Turkey and Egypt were severed after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the then head of the military, led the coup against Morsi.
Since then, Erdogan, who is closely aligned with Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, has refused to establish diplomatic ties with Sisi.
On Tuesday, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmad Abu Zeid responded to Yildirim's comments saying that for relations to improve Ankara must recognise the 2013 power-grab as a "revolution".
"We welcome all efforts on improving the relations between Egypt and Turkey. However, the starting point of smoothing the ties would be recognising the official institutions that were established after June 2013," Abu Zeid said in a statement.
This week, Turkey and Israel agreed on a deal to normalise their relations, six years after Israel attacked a Turkish boat bound for Gaza as part of an aid flotilla in international waters, killing Turkish citizens.
Two of Turkey's key conditions for normalisation – an apology and compensation – have largely been met. This leaves its third demand – that Israel lift its blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip – the main obstacle.
"There is an agreement between Cairo and Tel Aviv to not further burden Egypt regarding Gaza and not to mention the Rafah border crossing in the deal because of Egypt's strained relations with Ankara," a senior Egyptian diplomat told The New Arab.
"Egyptian authorities have stayed silent on the deal because they have agreed to all of it with Israel," the diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added.