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Turkey and Egypt Hail ‘New Era’ in Relations During Erdogan’s Visit

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The two leaders signed a joint declaration that underlines the beginning of a new era in ties. Credit: Turkish Presidency

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had face-to-face talks with Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Wednesday in Cairo, following more than a decade of tensions between the two countries.

The two countries decided to resume the functions of the high-level strategic council at the level of presidents with a joint target to increase the trade volume to $15 billion as soon as possible.

“We are determined to increase the level of the relationship between our countries. We are satisfied to observe the same strong will on the Egyptian side,” Erdogan said at a press conference with el-Sissi after the talks.

The two leaders signed a joint declaration that underlines the beginning of a new era in ties and the importance of the improvement of bilateral dialogue for regional and global issues. The declaration also announced the resumption of the Türkiye-Egypt High-Level Strategic Council.

“We wish to convene the strategic council in a very short period in Ankara. I believe this will constitute a milestone in our ties,” the Turkish president said. El-Sissi, for his part, informed his intention to visit Turkey in April upon the invitation of Erdogan.

War in Gaza dominates the meeting

Erdogan, an outspoken critic of Israel’s conduct in its war with Gaza’s rulers Hamas, again took aim at the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Turkish leader, on his first visit to Egypt in more than 10 years, denounced Netanyahu’s “occupation, destruction and massacres”.

Erdogan said the Palestinians were “at the top of our agenda” and that it was “our priority to establish a ceasefire as soon as possible”. Turkey was “ready to work with Egypt for the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza in the medium term,” he added.

For his part, Sisi criticized “Israel’s obstacles which mean that humanitarian aid enters Gaza too slowly”.

Egypt controls the Rafah crossing into Gaza, but Israel insists on inspecting every aid shipment. Cairo has been hosting joint efforts with Qatar and the United States to broker a new truce between Israel and Hamas.

Relations between Turkey and Egypt broke down in 2013

Relations between the two countries broke down in 2013 following El-Sissi’s coup against the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohamed Mursi, a group Ankara had protected after Cairo designated it a terrorist organization.

Erdogan then branded the current Egyptian president as a coup leader and anti-democratic, and assured that he would never meet him or shake his hand.

However, in November 2022, the two leaders shook hands during the World Cup in Qatar, an event that was interpreted as the end of the political rift between the two countries.

Related: Turkey and Egypt Exchange Envoys in a Move to Normalize Relations

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