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Egypt FM visits Syria, Turkiye for first time in decade

February 27, 2023 at 3:53 pm

Egypt’s FM makes his first trip to Turkey and Syria in ten years.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister has visited Syria and Turkiye today in the first of such visits in a decade, signalling greater chances of normalisation and the resumption of diplomatic relations.

Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, today met with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mekdad, and President Bashar Al-Assad in the capital, Damascus, reportedly in order to discuss the provision of more earthquake assistance “in full coordination with the Syrian government”.

Speaking to reporters in Damascus, Shoukry stated that “The goal of the visit is primarily humanitarian, and to pass on our solidarity – from the leadership, the government and the people of Egypt to the people of Syria.” Mekdad welcomed the visit, saying that “When the Foreign Minister of Egypt comes to Damascus, he comes to his home, his people and his country.”

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Shoukry then visited Turkiye and met with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Adana, the southern city which was also impacted by the earthquakes on 6 February and the following weeks, before later heading together to the port of Mersin, where an Egyptian aid ship arrived today.

There in Mersin, Cavusoglu told reporters that Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, could meet again soon, following their brief meeting and handshake at the World Cup in Qatar last year. “During our talks today, we exchanged views on mutual visits in the upcoming period. Our deputy foreign ministers met twice before, and it would be beneficial for them to meet again. After our talks, our presidents can meet either in Turkiye or Egypt,” he stated.

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According to Ahmed Abu Zeid, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Shoukry “offers condolences over the victims of [the] earthquake, affirms solidarity of [the] Egyptian leadership, govt & people with Turkiye, and asserting continuity of aid for supporting Turkiye and its brotherly people.”

The visit to Syria and Turkiye by Egypt’s top diplomat – the first in a decade – comes at a time when Cairo is increasingly signalling a restoration of ties with both countries after a turbulent decade since the military coup which overthrew the democratically-elected Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, and brought Sisi to power, the subsequent Turkish condemnations and the advancement of the civil war in Syria.

Despite Egypt’s military coup in 2013 and its reopening of its embassy in Syria that year, Sisi’s government still kept its distance from Assad, and has not yet fully restored relations. Due to the ongoing warming of ties, however, there have been reports that Cairo will support Damascus’s return to the Arab League, but Shoukry declined to respond to reporters’ questions regarding that possibility.

Egypt has also been advancing its relations with Turkiye over the past few years, culminating in the handshake between Sisi and Erdogan, and more recently Turkish companies’ pledge to invest $500 million into Egypt this month.

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