Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Turning over a new leaf?

Egyptian and Turkish officials could hold talks soon as Ankara looks for a way to turn the page on nearly a decade of strained ties. Turkish broadcaster NTV is running a banner headline declaring that Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu has declared “a new era with Egypt,” reporting that officials “at the level of deputy ministers and diplomats” are due to sit down to discuss several issues including reinstating diplomatic missions. No date has yet been set for the talks, Çavuşoğlu said. His statement comes after he exchanged Ramadan wishes on a call with Foreign Minister Sameh Shokry on Saturday.

Turkey has recently been trying to dial back tensions: Officials in Ankara told Turkish media in March to tone down criticism of Egypt that dates back to revolution that ended our Islamist interregnum in 2013. Cavusoglu also said his country is willing to sign a maritime pact with Egypt, potentially ending Ankara’s disputed territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean and forcing it to recognize an agreement between Egypt and Greece creating a joint economic zone in the region. Turkey opposed the Egypt-Greece agreement, claiming it infringes on its continental shelf and runs at odds with an agreement it signed with Libya in 2019, which Egypt had originally rejected. We could now be closer to an agreement that could bring the neighbors closer together as Greece and Libya agreed this morning to hold talks on their maritime zones. Turkey is also motivated to mend its relations with Egypt because it’s interested in a larger share of the region’s natural gas reserves and in becoming a member of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum.

But we haven’t as of yet resumed official diplomatic communication. Egypt said last month that Turkey needs to abide by international law and stop meddling in the internal affairs of others for normal relations to be restored.

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