Egypt says Turkish ‘words not enough’ to restore full ties

File photo. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during a joint press conference with his Sudanese counterpart at the Tahrir Palace in Cairo, Egypt, 2 March 2021. [EPA-EFE/KHALED ELFIQI]

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry acknowledged Sunday (14 March) that diplomatic contact had been established with Turkey but warned full ties would depend on “a real change in Turkish policy”, state media reported.

Ankara and Cairo had a dramatic falling out when Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi ousted the Turkish-backed Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The two regional powers have since sparred over a range of issues and found themselves on opposite sides of the war in Libya.

“If we find a real change in Turkish (foreign) policy aligning with those of Egypt to stabilise the region… that could lay the groundwork to normalise relations,” state newspaper Akhbar Al-Youm quoted Shoukry as saying.

His comments, the first by a senior Egyptian official on the record, came after Ankara said Friday it had established its first diplomatic contacts with Cairo in over seven years.

But “words are not enough, they must be matched by deeds,” Shoukry cautioned Sunday, addressing parliament’s foreign relations committee.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been extending olive branches to his rivals in the face of potential sanctions from the European Union and a tough new diplomatic line from US President Joe Biden.

Merkel and Borissov blocked EU sanctions against Turkey at summit: sources

Germany and Bulgaria were the most vocal among the EU countries who blocked sanctions against Turkey at the EU summit on 10 December, sources have told EURACTIV.com.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told Turkish state media on Friday that the two countries had made “contacts both at the level of intelligence and foreign ministries”.

Erdoğan later told reporters that he wanted these initial discussions to pave the way for talks with Sisi.

Shoukry said Sunday that “the political situation is linked to adverse positions taken by the Turkish leadership against Egypt”.

Cairo’s softening stance towards its regional rivals has also extended to Qatar, after a Saudi-led blockade over the Gulf monarchy was lifted in January.

This week, a senior Qatari delegation visited Cairo, in the latest sign of a thawing relations.

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