Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, is expected to make a visit to Turkey this week, according to an announcement made by the Turkish government on Monday. The visit may lead to progress in reinstating envoys, following the cutting of diplomatic ties a decade ago. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, stated that during the visit, concrete steps could be taken towards appointing ambassadors. Discussions regarding the possibility of restoring ambassadors between the two countries began in 2021, as Turkey sought to improve ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel.
However, the process accelerated after the two countries’ leaders, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, shook hands at the World Cup in Doha. Cavusoglu also stated that the two presidents may meet in person after Turkey’s May 14th election. The visit comes after Shoukry’s visit to Turkey two weeks ago to show solidarity after massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria.
Further discussions on improving relations between Turkey and Egypt have been underway for some time, with the goal of ending the decade-long diplomatic freeze. The relationship between the two countries soured in 2013 after the military coup in Egypt that overthrew then-president Mohamed Mursi. Since then, relations have been strained over a number of issues, including Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has designated as a terrorist organization, and the two countries’ differing positions on the conflict in Libya. Additionally, tensions have flared over territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean, with both countries competing for resources in the region.
However, in recent years, there has been a push to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries, as Turkey seeks to improve its standing in the region. This push has been part of a larger effort by Turkey to repair relations with former regional rivals, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
The recent earthquakes that struck Turkey in February have provided an opportunity for the two countries to come together. Shoukry’s visit to Turkey to show solidarity was the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister since 2016, and it was followed by Cavusoglu’s visit to Cairo last month, which was the first visit by a Turkish foreign minister since 2012.
While the restoration of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Egypt would be a significant development, there are still hurdles to overcome. One major obstacle is the two countries’ differing positions on the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt considers to be a terrorist organization. Turkey, on the other hand, sees the group as a legitimate political movement.
Additionally, the two countries’ competing interests in the eastern Mediterranean will need to be addressed. Turkey has been pursuing an aggressive foreign policy in the region, including conducting military drills and exploration activities in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus. Egypt has sided with Greece and Cyprus on this issue, and the two countries have signed an agreement demarcating their maritime boundaries.
Despite these challenges, there are signs that the relationship between Turkey and Egypt is thawing. Shoukry’s upcoming visit to Turkey is a positive sign, and the fact that the two countries have been engaged in talks to restore diplomatic ties is a step in the right direction. With continued efforts, it is possible that the two countries can put their differences aside and work towards a more peaceful and stable region.
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