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Ankara, Cairo agree to maximise diplomatic ties: Turkish Foreign Minister

March 20, 2023 at 2:27 pm

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu [Murat Gök / Anadolu Agency]

Ankara and Cairo agreed to maximise the diplomatic relations that were stalled after the 2013 military coup in Egypt, according to Turkiye’s Foreign Minister, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“We agreed to maximise our diplomatic relations. We have evaluated what steps we will take in the next process. I invited him (Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry) to Ankara. I said that I wanted to host him, especially during the month of Ramadan,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters.

Cavusoglu’s remarks came after he met with Shoukry in the capital, Cairo, on Saturday, where the two ministers discussed bilateral relations and regional and international issues.

Diplomatic relations between Turkiye and Egypt have been at the level of charges d’affaires on both sides since Egypt’s 2013 military coup which overthrew the late President Mohammed Morsi.

Cavusoglu is the first Foreign Minister to visit Egypt from Turkiye in 11 years.

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About the appointment of ambassadors, Cavusoglu said it was previously planned that, if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi got together, they would announce it.

“We were expecting the highest level of the announcement. If the (presidents) meeting is delayed after the election (in Turkiye), we will consult again. We will decide on this soon. But we have already announced at the news conference that we have started this process,” he added.

After the 6 February quakes in Turkiye, Shoukry visited the quake-hit Adana and Mersin provinces, and his visit to Turkiye was the first by an Egyptian Foreign Minister in more than a decade.

Meanwhile, Al-Sisi was among the leaders who made a phone call with Erdogan following the earthquakes, offering his condolences to the quake victims.

Bilateral ties

Cavusoglu said they have discussed ways to develop bilateral relations and “discussed existing matters, issues to overcome”.

“We exchanged views, especially on regional issues. Then we held a meeting between delegations and discussed everything. In other words, we touched on all matters from energy, shipping, transportation to our companies and investments here,” he said, adding that topics related to “energy, logistics, education and culture” were also addressed.

Noting that the Egyptian side wants Turkish companies to increase their investments in Egypt, Cavusoglu said the bilateral trade volume currently nears $10 billion.

On liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, the Turkish Minister said the balance is in Egypt’s favour which Turkiye does not complain about.

“We want to make a long-term LNG agreement. Because, thanks to our LNG terminals, we are currently exporting gas to south-east European countries and Balkan countries. Therefore, Egyptian gas can be exported to third countries via Turkiye,” he said.

During the talks, the Turkish side also proposed to establish a JETCO (Joint Economic and Trade Commission) mechanism between the two countries as the most recent meeting was held in 1996.

“On the other hand, we decided to expand our cooperation, especially in renewable energy and solar energy,” Cavusoglu added.

The Turkish Foreign Minister further said they have “openly and clearly” exchanged views on regional matters.

Citing the bilateral regional dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over an Ethiopian dam that could curtail Egypt’s share of the River Nile’s waters, Turkiye suggested it could play a mediator role as it has good ties with both Ethiopia and Sudan, according to Cavusoglu.

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“We discussed Libya in a little more detail. We agree that we are not rivals in Libya and that we should work together for the stability of Libya. We will intensify our consultations on this issue as well,” he noted.

On Turkiye’s delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas deal with Libya signed on 27 November, 2019, Cavusoglu stressed that it is not an agreement “against Egypt”.

Likewise, “Egypt’s agreement with Greece is not against us (Turkiye) either,” he said, and added that Egypt “respected the borders of our continental shelf even when relations were cold.”

Asked about the cancellation of a quadrilateral meeting on Syria that was planned to be held in Russia’s Moscow last week, Cavusoglu said the Russian side told they were unable to prepare for the meeting and asked to postpone it.

“They (Russia) suggested to organise it at a later time and we agreed,” he added.

On 28 December, 2022, the Turkish, Russian, and Syrian defence ministers met in Moscow to discuss counter-terrorism efforts in Syria and agreed to continue the tripartite meetings to ensure stability in Syria and the wider region.

Cavusoglu also commented EU’s international donors’ conference on Monday to support the victims of last month’s devastating earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria.

“A tripartite presentation will be made at the conference on Monday (today): first, the Strategy Budget Presidency will present a report, then the World Bank and the UN Development Program will make their own presentations on this report,” he said.

The reporting and evaluations will continue in the future, Cavusoglu noted, saying the steps to be taken now are “medium-term steps.”

He also added that the report will not only be a reference for Monday’s conference but also a reference when Turkiye would apply for “a credit cooperation with any credit institution from now on”.

Asked about the details of the conference, Cavusoglu said some may pledge monetary aid as the “the European Union itself will make a commitment from its own funds.”

He also added that some countries suggested rebuilding some parts of the destroyed regions, as others previously suggested spending money on existing projects for the quake-hit areas.

Erdogan will virtually address the opening session of the event and Cavusoglu will attend the conference in person.

On 6 February, magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes struck 11 provinces — Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

The death toll from the quakes rose to 50,096, according to the country’s Disaster Management Authority on Monday.

More than 13.5 million people in Turkiye have been affected by the devastating quakes, as well as many others in northern Syria.

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