Top Turkish Official Signals Possible Easing of Tension with Egypt

A Turkish official signaled a possible thawing of recently-strained relations between Turkey and Egypt on Monday, saying that they would soon stabilize.

Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc said his country needed “good friendly relations based on mutual understanding, particularly with Egypt and the Gulf states.”

Arinc, however, said that Egypt “might be the one who should take initiative,” stressing that his country hasn’t changed its stance on what’s happened in Egypt.

Cairo and Ankara have witnessed strained relations since the ouster of former Islamist Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi last year and the open criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who referred to Morsi’s removal as a “coup.”

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were nearly destroyed in November 2013, as both countries expelled their ambassadors and replaced them with charge d’affairs.

In October, Egypt refused to renew an agreement that facilitated exporting Turkish goods to the Gulf and African nations through Egypt’s mainland via its ports.

Earlier in December, Egypt placed restrictions on its citizens wishing to travel from Cairo to Turkey or Iraq. The decision mandates that potential travelers aged 18 to 40 get security approval from passport control authorities.

Turkey is currently the easiest border to cross into northern Syria, where several cities have fallen under the control of the Islamic State organisation.

In his interview with Al Jazeera’s Turkish channel, Arinc said that his country has maintained its stance of rejecting the overthrow of elected authorities though a coup.

Arinc also addressed the international community, saying that “the whole world accepted it” when addressing Morsi’s ouster.

Arinc added that the transitional period that followed Morsi’s ouster was “unhealthy” and called for lifting the groups “which do not use violence and armament in its foundation, structure and objectives” from Egypt’s list of terrorist organisations.

“According to what I know, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood did not opt for violence in the 40s, 50s and 60s of the past century…We cannot accept throwing people in jail on trumped up charges and sentencing more than a thousand people to death,” Arinc said.

The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, was designated as a terrorist group last year, with thousands of their leaders and supporters arrested and tried on a variety of charges.

Brotherhood leaders who fled Egypt mainly sought asylum in Turkey and Qatar.

As of late, Egypt has been mending fences with several countries that criticised Morsi’s ouster and the subsequent crackdown on his supporters.

Most recently is a cooling of tense relations with Qatar, marked by the closure of Doha-based Al Jazeera local affiliate, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, which announced its closure on Monday, citing a temporary halt as it seeks to obtain “necessary permits.”

The channel, seen as a mouthpiece for the Brotherhood and their supporters, was one of the main issues causing tension in the bilateral relations between Egypt and Qatar

Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr was officially banned from broadcasting last year but remained on air. In recent weeks, the channel began changing its rhetoric when referring to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, calling him “the first elected president after the coup” instead of the “leader of the coup.”

Source: Ahram Online