Tactic or Strategy … New Step towards Turkish-Egyptian Normalization

A few weeks after the Turkish flirtation and statements of calm towards Cairo, Turkish-Egyptian contacts made tangible progress and entered a new phase to rebuild relations between the two countries. This comes after relations have worsened for years due to many files, most notably the file of the MB, which Egypt classifies as a “terrorist organization”.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that a Turkish delegation will visit Egypt in early May, in response to an invitation from the Egyptian side, with the possibility of reciprocal visits in the coming period.

New Era..

“A new era begins in relations with Egypt, and reciprocal visits will take place, and there will be a meeting with Egypt at the level of assistant foreign ministers and diplomats, and an ambassador will be appointed,” Cavusoglu said, according to Anadolu Agency. “The date for that has not yet been determined and we can discuss it in the next stage,” he stressed.

Cavusoglu had taken the month of Ramadan as an occasion to speak with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, to congratulate him on the advent of the holy month. Observers saw the phone call as a new attempt by Ankara to get closer to Egypt.

Turkey recently began to change its rhetoric about its relations with Egypt, after a tense phase between the two. It talked about the existence of intelligence and diplomatic contacts with Egypt, despite reports that these talks had stalled.

“The phone conversation was part of the humanitarian courtesy of congratulating Ramadan. We must take it within the framework of all the statements issued by the Turkish side regarding the importance of relations with Egypt,” the Egyptian Foreign Minister confirmed after the call with his peer.

Relations between Egypt and Turkey have been at a standstill for over eight years, due to several files, most notably Ankara’s Mediterranean policy, its embrace of the MB, and the Libyan crisis.

Mediterranean Gas ..

In addition, Turkish sources familiar with the conversations told the media that “what is hindering real progress is the difference in priorities between the two sides, as Ankara is focusing strongly on making progress in diplomatic and political discussions in order to discuss important files at the national security level, while Cairo focuses on the files of the MB and the media, and do not show any enthusiasm for progress in other files at the present time.

“Ankara wishes at this stage to strengthen political contacts on the Libyan file to ensure that all Egyptian concerns regarding military and political developments in Libya are taken into consideration. in addition to work more quickly to sign an agreement to demarcate the maritime borders between the two countries in the Mediterranean, as this represents A big priority for Turkey,” the Turkish sources affirm

Analysts consider Turkey’s insistence on restoring relations to be linked to the East Mediterranean gas issue, especially since Turkey wants to get out of the “isolation” that it lives in Middle East and Europe, gas has become a card that defines Turkey’s policies and directions.

Media outlets quoted diplomatic sources earlier as saying that “Egypt’s respect for Turkey’s continental shelf in the Bid that it put forward for oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean does not mean that it is seeking rapprochement with Turkey as it is being marketed. Cairo, from the beginning, is trying to avoid any clash or involvement in battles. It is not a priority for her, and it does not want to be part of the struggles of others without a real price to be gained.”

Egypt recently has announced a Bid for hydrocarbon exploration (oil and gas) in the eastern Mediterranean, taking into account the limits of the continental shelf announced by Turkey to the United Nations.

“Depending on the progress of relations, we can negotiate with Egypt regarding areas of maritime jurisdiction and sign an agreement with it in this regard,” the Turkish Foreign Minister stresses.

Analysts also point out that “against the background of all these changes, a great development occurred in Egypt, whose government concluded an agreement to demarcate areas of maritime jurisdiction with Greece, which was an attempt to cancel the Turkish-Libyan deal. Cairo recently published a map that reflects its recognition of the maritime authority of Turkey, according to the interpretation of expert”.

It is noteworthy that the conversations on the eastern Mediterranean stopped in 2016, amid escalating tension between Greece and Turkey, the two countries (NATO), in light of an escalating diplomatic crisis due to Athens’ accusation that Ankara is drilling in its territorial waters.

MB and Media Channels.

On the other hand, the Egyptian side stresses not to interfere in the Egyptian internal affairs. The file of extradition of the wanted persons for trial remains the most important obstacles facing the discussions between the two parties, according to Hany Khalaf the former assistant of the Egyptian Foreign Minister.

“Turkey has responded to Egypt’s demand regarding hostile media tools, and a number of the three media tools, present in Turkey and Egypt, have been closely following it,” Khalaf asserts.

Sources close to the Turkish conversations confirmed to Arab media that “the Egyptian side expresses a desire to deal with all files, and confirms its interest in discussing the

Libyan file and the maritime borders. However, at this stage, he insists on presenting demands related to the MB organization and the presence of its elements in Turkey. Also the Egyptian side also shows a high priority in putting pressure on the opposition media that broadcast from Istanbul in an attempt to permanently stop it.

“Turkey is following and seeing the direct and indirectly directed Egyptian media launching massive and daily media campaigns against it, but it does not attach great importance to this matter, and gives priority to files related to the national security. Turkey believes that the media attacks will naturally diminish with the improvement of relations and the reduction of differences. On the other hand, Cairo deals with the exact opposite and focuses only on the media and the MB file, and does not give the same priority to the basic political files.” the source clarifies

In turn, the Turkish authorities informed the Egyptian opposition channels of the need to review their editorial policies and reduce their rhetoric against the Egyptian regime. A few days ago, two of the most prominent broadcasters of opposition programs announced the suspension of their programs, as a result of the new pressures that these channels were subjected to stop their criticism of the Egyptian regime.

Informed sources revealed, last week, that leaders of the “MB” group held meetings in the British capital, London. The meetings focused on the issue of Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement and its reflection on the leaders of MB residing on Turkish territory, the preparation for the repercussions of any possible reconciliation and the resulting handover of some of the Egyptian group’s escapees to the security authorities in Cairo.

The sources pointed out that these meetings led to several perceptions about the crisis of residents in Turkey, including securing those convicted of death or life sentences by providing other safe shelters outside Turkey, in countries that do not have agreements with Egypt to exchange criminals. As for those convicted with simple sentences ranging from 3 to 7 years, coordination is being made with the Turkish authorities to grant them temporary residency

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