“You know our attitude towards the Egyptian people is very, very positive, that is, there is a historical relationship between the Egyptian people and the Turkish nation,” he told reporters after attending Friday prayers at an Istanbul mosque.
“That is why we are in an effort to regain our historical union with the Egyptian people, not as hostile brothers, but as friends,” he continued.
“As I said before, it saddens us to see the Egyptian people forced to side with the Greek people,” Erdogan said, adding:
“It makes us sad to see that Egyptians are in solidarity with Greeks.”
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) May 7, 2021
Erdogan said Turkey wanted to reinforce efforts to restore the “historic” friendship with Egypt, after the two regional rivals held their first direct talks in eight years.
Turkey, Egypt talks to normalize relations
Ankara and Cairo have been sparring since the Egyptian military’s 2013 overthrow of the late Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who Erdogan backed personally.
A Turkish delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal held two days of talks this week in Cairo that both sides described as “frank and in-depth”.
This round of negotiations was not designed to paper over all of the differences between Turkey and Egypt, of which there are many. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry explained the meetings as “necessary steps that may lead to normalization of relations between the two countries at the bilateral and regional context.”
Erdogan promised that dialogue would continue. “A new process (with Egypt) has started…We will expand, develop and continue this.”
“We are making efforts to restore our historic relations not as enemies but as friends.”
The talks in Cairo came after Turkey told members of Egypt’s Istanbul-based opposition media to “tone down” criticism of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The request appeared to be a gesture of goodwill aimed at mending ties that were eroded further by the two countries backing opposing sides in the now-unwinding conflict in Libya.
Greece strengthens ties with Egypt
Last month, Greece and Egypt signed a program for bilateral military cooperation in 2021 following a meeting between delegations from the Hellenic National Defence General Staff and its Egyptian counterpart.
According to an announcement, the agreement covers a broad range of actions that will take place in both Greece and Egypt, focusing mainly on joint exercises and training activities involving all three branches of the armed forces.
Last year, Turkey reacted strongly to the maritime zone agreement signed between Greece and Egypt, saying it violates the continental shelf of Turkey and Libya, and thereby is “null and void.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) designated in the agreement falls in the area of Turkey’s continental shelf and violates both Turkish and Libyan maritime rights. It also says that Greece and Egypt do not share a sea border.