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Turkey and Egypt Rekindle Relations After 9-Year Rift

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Erdogan expressed Turkey’s will to carry out a normalization process with Egypt. Credit: Turkish Presidency

Turkey and Egypt renewed their relationship after years of strain with a warm handshake between Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the sidelines of the World Cup in Qatar on November 20th.

The presidency in Cairo on November 21st heralded a new “beginning” in ties with Ankara. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Recep Tayyip Erdogan “confirmed the depth of historical ties between the two countries” during their brief encounter in Doha, Bassam Radi, a spokesman, said in a statement, signaling Egypt is finally ready to bridge their nine-year rift.

Elaborating his brief meeting with el-Sisi, Erdogan said he expressed Turkey’s wish to carry out a normalization process with Egypt through high-level talks.

“We said that a process can begin,” Erdogan said. “A step has been taken here to start such a process, and we have had discussions. I hope we can move the process, which started with our ministers, to a good point later, hopefully to the high-level meetings.”

The unity of the Turkish nation and the Egyptian people in the past is very important to Türkiye, he said.

“Why not again, why not start again?” he inquired. “We gave this signal.”

Ankara expects Cairo to establish peace together against those who take a stand against them in the Mediterranean, Erdogan added.

Turkey and Egypt broke relations in 2013

This short meeting was recorded as the highest level of contact between Turkey and Egypt after Sisi seized power in Egypt on July 3, 2013 following a military coup that toppled democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi.

Turkey strongly condemned the coup and slammed el-Sisi. 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, as well as maritime disputes in the eastern Mediterranean.

In October, Egypt and Greece proclaimed a deal between Turkey and Libya for hydrocarbon exploration in Libya’s Mediterranean waters as illegal.

Egypt charged that the authorities’ mandate in Tripoli has “expired” and that “the government of Tripoli does not have the legitimacy to sign agreements.”

The deal follows an agreement Turkey signed three years ago with Tripoli that demarcated the countries’ shared maritime borders.

Greece, Egypt, and Cyprus believe the 2019 agreement violates their economic rights in an area suspected to contain vast natural gas reserves.

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