The normalisation and improvement of ties between Turkey and Egypt are vital for the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has stated.
Speaking on the Turkish news channel NTV, Cavusoglu said “Relations with Egypt must be improved. The two countries’ ties are significant for many regions. Reciprocal reappointment of ambassadors is possible.”
He clarified that “A process has started. Two rounds of meetings have been held at the level of deputy ministers. Now the third round is possible. We may meet with Foreign Minister [Sameh] Shoukry and others.”
Reports emerged last week that Ankara is set to return and appoint a new ambassador to Egypt after almost a decade of diplomatic fallout between the two countries, due to Egypt’s 2013 military coup which overthrew the elected president Mohammed Morsi and established the rule of current president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, which Turkey refused to recognise.
That set into motion nine years of tensions, deterioration in diplomatic ties, and regional rivalry. Over the past year, however, Ankara and Cairo’s efforts towards reconciliation accelerated, and Cavusoglu now says that both sides are willing to normalise ties. “Our efforts will continue in this regard.”
The Turkish foreign minister also touched upon the impact that their relations have on the Eastern Mediterranean region, especially in the field of energy cooperation. “We have been defending fair sharing and cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean since the beginning. Countries that did not approach this cooperation turned to various polarizations, initiatives that excluded Turkey, and blocs were formed. But we have since seen that none of these were practical.”
Those initiatives and blocs he mentioned included specifically the EastMed pipeline project, in which Israel, Greece, Cyprus, and then Egypt agreed at the beginning of 2020 to build a 1,900-kilometre-long pipeline that transports Israeli gas through Cyprus – where it would have harnessed the reserves of natural gas off the island’s southern shores – and all the way to southern and mainland Europe.
Initially with the support and backing of the American administration of former president, Donald Trump, the US government withdrew its support for that project at the beginning of this year. “Everyone saw that the EastMed is not a feasible project. As the war continues, everybody wants to diversify its energy resources,” Cavusoglu said.
The reasons why Washington abandoned the project were primarily its costliness, the need to move towards renewable energy sources, and the potential regional instability that the project would have resulted in after Turkey’s dissatisfaction and outrage at the plans to bypass it.
Now, the Turkish foreign minister stated, any future grand energy projects planned in the region must include Turkey as a major player. “We see that Israel has rich reserves. In order for these to reach the International and European market the most economic itinerary is through Turkey.”