Turkey continued on Tuesday to reach out to regional rivals Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in a renewed bid to mend frayed ties that have stoked regional tensions. This comes amid an ongoing climate of mistrust in view of the absence of any concrete gestures of goodwill by Ankara.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said his country was taking “positive steps” to improve relations as Turkish and Egyptian officials were holding a second round of talks in Ankara.
“Our friends at the ministry are meeting (Egyptian officials),” he said in an interview with broadcaster NTV. “If we decide together after the meetings, we will take the necessary mutual
steps to appoint an ambassador.”
Egypt and Turkey have not exchanged ambassadors since 2013, when relations worsened following the ousting of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, now the country’s president.
Turkey has been at loggerheads with Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia over a number of issues, most recently the conflict in Libya, where Ankara backed a Muslim Brotherhood administration in Tripoli while its Arab rivals supported the Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
“There is no lasting friendship or enmity in international relations,” said Çavuşoğlu.
The minister also held out the possibility of striking a maritime deal with Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean, similar to the one concluded with the Tripoli government in late 2019. That deal led to renewed tensions between Turkey and neighbouring Greece and Cyprus over energy exploration in the region, with Cairo also expressing its concern.
Çavuşoğlu proposed a summit of eastern Mediterranean nations to reconcile disputes.
On relations with the UAE, Turkey’s top diplomat said there were “positive steps in the normalisation process”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, by telephone last week.
Çavuşoğlu also reiterated Turkey’s wish to resolve its dispute with the United States over its purchase of a Russian air defence system.
(This article was originally published by the Arab Weekly and is reproduced by permission.)