| 7 December 2023, Thursday |

Turkish Parliament Approves Friendship Group with Egypt

The Turkish parliament unanimously approved a motion on Wednesday to establish a parliamentary friendship group with Egypt.

This comes ahead of a scheduled visit by a diplomatic delegation to Cairo to hold the first official meeting between representatives of both countries’ foreign ministries and discuss normalizing ties.

Ankara has recently ordered Istanbul-based TV channels affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood to stop airing criticism and incitement leveled against Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the government.

Turkish officials demanded that stations and media outlets “commit to respecting the charters of journalistic ethics.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had proposed reforming the parliamentary friendship group with Egypt, which was canceled in 2013.

The parliament also approved forming a parliamentary friendship group with Libya.

The Turkish opposition welcomed the recent steps, noting that the deterioration of relations with Egypt posed a great threat to Turkey and its interests.

Over the past eight years, opposition parties have repeatedly criticized Erdogan’s approach to relations with Egypt and accused him of being biased to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had previously announced that a delegation from Ankara will visit Cairo in early May as part of efforts to mend bilateral ties.

The first delegation talks would be at the level of deputy foreign ministers, the FM said, adding that it will be followed with a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

Turkish talks with Egypt next week could forge renewed cooperation between the estranged regional powers and help efforts to end the war in Libya, Erdogan’s spokesman said.

Intelligence chiefs, as well as foreign ministers of both countries, have been in contact, and a Turkish diplomatic mission will visit Egypt in early May, Kalin stated on Tuesday.

“Given the realities on the ground I think it’s in the interests of both countries and the region to normalize relations with Egypt,” he said.

“Rapprochement with Egypt…will certainly help the security situation in Libya because we fully understand that Egypt has a long border with Libya and that may sometimes pose a security threat for Egypt,” Kalin said.

He pointed out that Turkey would discuss security in Libya, where a United Nations-backed transitional government took over last month, with Egypt and other countries.

Turkey had announced the beginning of a “new period” in relations with Egypt including visits and reciprocal talks that may lead to an agreement on the appointment of ambassadors.

For years, relations between Egypt and Turkey were strained after the Egyptian army toppled a Brotherhood president and Ankara welcomed the group.

Relations were also tense after Turkey’s military intervention in Libya, and the issue of the gas agreements in the eastern Mediterranean.

Cairo recalled its ambassador to Ankara in 2013 after Turkey’s sharp escalation against the Egyptian leadership. Turkey reciprocated the move, and the diplomatic representation of the two countries was reduced to the level of charge d’affaires, but political tension did not affect economic and trade relations.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat