Egyptian diplomatic sources denied Turkish claims that Ankara and Cairo have begun bilateral discussions on how to resolve differences over territory in the eastern Mediterranean, Arab News reported on Monday.
“Cairo has no intentions of negotiating with Turkey over the issue. Egypt is committed to Cyprus and Greece being part of any negotiations with Turkey,” one of the sources said, according to Arab News.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said last week that Turkey could negotiate and sign with Egypt a maritime demarcation deal in the eastern Mediterranean depending on the course of the relationship between the two countries.
In 2019, Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Italy and the Palestinian territories held the EastMed Gas Forum, excluding Turkey. In November the same year, Turkey signed a maritime border agreement with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), ignoring Greek territorial waters around Cyprus and a number of islands, including Crete.
Egypt’s position of rejecting the maritime deal has not changed, the diplomatic sources said.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday that Egypt’s respect for Turkey’s continental shelf as part a tender held for hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean was a very important development. There may be more such developments in the coming days, he said.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ratified a maritime agreement with Greece in October last year, which sought to gain maximum benefit for both countries from natural resources available in an exclusive economic zone, which include natural gas reserves.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke on the phone with Sisi on Wednesday. The two leaders stressed their “strong” bilateral relationship and their will to improve ties, the Greek City Times reported.