Turkey, Egypt launch exploratory talks to normalize relations

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Egyptian and Turkish officials met in Cairo on May 5 to hold talks in a bid to restore ties between the two countries after eight years of animosity.

delegation of Turkish officials chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal has visited Egypt on May 5-6 for exploratory discussions to normalize ties, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on May 4.

“These exploratory discussions will focus on necessary steps that may lead towards the normalization of relations between the two countries bilaterally and in the regional context,” the ministry said.

Political consultations between the countries will be held under the chairmanship of Önal and his Egyptian counterpart, Hamdi Sanad Loza, the ministry said. The same statement was made by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry as well.

Egypt and Turkey have been at loggerheads since a military coup staged by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi toppled Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013. Turkey strongly condemned the coup and slammed el-Sissi, who later became head of Egypt. Cairo expelled Turkey’s ambassador while Ankara downgraded relations in a tit-for-tat move, further fraying ties.

The two countries also sparred over a range of other issues, including the war in Libya, where they backed rival sides and maritime disputes in the eastern Mediterranean.

A 2019 Turkish deal with Libyan officials aimed to boost Turkish maritime rights and influence in the eastern Mediterranean angered regional countries, including Egypt and Greece, which responded by signing a separate deal to delineate their maritime boundaries.

A ceasefire in Libya and the formation of an interim government also helped in paving the way for the normalization of ties between Ankara and Cairo.

Efforts to normalize the ties between the two countries started last year through a dialogue established by the intelligence services of the respective countries.

Egypt recently announced holding a tender for hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean by recognizing the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) demarcated by Turkey – a move that Ankara welcomed.

The two countries exchanged positive signals on establishing contacts and dialogue, including the possibility of holding talks to demarcate their maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey might negotiate a maritime demarcation agreement with Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 12 that the two countries held “intelligence, diplomatic and economic” contacts, adding that he hoped for “strong” ties between the two nations.

Çavuşoğlu had spoken with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on the phone in the recent weeks.

The minister earlier said he could meet his Egyptian counterpart as well after the interim consultations. Turkey and Egypt may exchange ambassadors in the coming period, Çavuşoğlu also stressed.

In March, Turkey offered Egypt to send Nene Hatun vessel to help its operations in reopening of the Suez Canal after a massive container ship ran aground.

Hurriyet Daily News

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