Turkey continues its “slow” rapprochement with Egypt

In a further step towards reconciliation, Turkey has announced that its finance minister, Noureddine Nabati, will visit Egypt on June 1, the first ministerial-level visit to Cairo in nine years, which observers consider to be a breakthrough in relationships. , who suffered a prolonged diplomatic estrangement.

The Turkish minister will arrive in Egypt at the head of a delegation to participate in the annual meetings of the Board of Governors of the Islamic Development Bank. A statement issued by the Turkish side said that Nabati will also hold “bilateral talks” without disclosing any more. details concerning the issues that these talks will address between Cairo and Ankara. Saudi Arabia did not receive a response from the Egyptian side to the request for comment.

The visit comes weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first visit to Saudi Arabia in nearly five years, during which he discussed an overture to Egypt, as well as a year after the start of two talks.” meetings” at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers in Egypt and Turkey to discuss the “necessary steps to normalize relations” both bilaterally and in the regional context.

However, these meetings have not yet resulted in the exchange of diplomatic representation between the two parties, which is still at the Chargé d’Affaires level, nor in the development of a roadmap to improve relations, while that unannounced security meetings are continuing between the two parties, discussing several issues, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood residing in Turkey and wanted with the Egyptian authorities, as well as the situation in Libya, the security delegations met there is a few weeks.

A diplomatic breakthrough with an economic connotation

Tensions between the Egyptian and Turkish sides have seen a clear calm over the past two years, with Ankara launching a diplomatic campaign to resolve its differences with regional countries, led by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Arab Emirates. United. the intensity of the dispute between the two parties on certain issues, such as Mediterranean gas and the Libyan crisis, has subsided.

As the economies of both countries are also suffering from the repercussions of the Corona pandemic, the Russian war against Ukraine and other emerging market crises, Turkish channel “TRT Haber” reported, Wednesday, May 18 (May) , that the meeting to be held in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh will witness a discussion on future strategies. The Islamic Development Bank, and the latest developments related to the Turkish economy and current economic policies will also be presented.

The upcoming visit has highlighted the importance of economic cooperation between the Egyptian and Turkish sides, which have mutual investments and an important trade exchange which has been steadily growing in recent years, despite political tensions. , which tripled between 2007 and 2020, from $4.42 billion to $11.14 billion, according to official statistics.

Karam Saeed, an Egyptian researcher specializing in Turkish affairs, believes that economic relations between the two countries represent an important entry point for rapprochement and improvement of relations, noting that they have remained free of political differences, and are remained “neutral” during the years of tension, which reached an unprecedented level of disputes and confrontations in several arenas and forums.

Said said: “Strengthening economic and trade cooperation is urgent for both countries, especially for Turkey, whose economy has suffered from a fragile situation for years, due to the non-renewal of the agreement. customs exchange with the European Union, and contentious issues with the United States, where the Egyptian market is promising in front of Turkish products.

Said added, to “Independent Arabia”, that despite the need for a visit at the level of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in order to advance the steps of rapprochement between the two parties, this visit of an economic nature, led by the Minister of Finance, has important indications regarding the level of improvement, which Check between the two parties, although it is part of a regional meeting, but this means that Ankara is keen to use international meetings and increasingly in order to purify its tense regional relations.

The Turkish Affairs researcher explained: “The visit itself, as the first visit at ministerial level, means that both sides have made great progress towards reconciliation, but the contentious issues are still important, the most important of which is important is the Libyan question. crisis, because it directly affects Egyptian national security, but the file of the organization of the Brotherhood It no longer represents a pressure card on Egypt, nor an asset in the hands of Ankara, and there is consensus concerning the file of maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean, which will remain as it is.

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slow normalization of relations

The train to improve Turkish relations with regional powers in the region has evolved very rapidly in recent months, following the exchange of high-level visits between the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, as well as Erdogan’s visit to Riyadh, which he described as having succeeded in reviewing relations and agreeing on common steps to develop them, but he did not announce any new steps towards Cairo, and merely pointed out that the dialogue between Ankara and Cairo is already based on the intelligence level, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the business community.

Turkish political analyst Cavad Gök believes that Turkish moves towards Egypt are still very late, compared to its quick moves to normalize and restore momentum in relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, including through Erdogan’s visits to the two countries, adding that “Ankara and Cairo discussed maritime borders in the Mediterranean, and it was There are positive statements about the normalization of relations, then bilateral meetings began, but they did not achieve the expected results with the desired speed.

Gök said: “The upcoming ministerial visit to Egypt can only be described as a positive step supported by the government and the opposition, albeit late. It seems that Ankara has sought justification at this stage, but the normalization of relations has yet to be concrete. Turkish accusations, statements and practices were very heavy against Egypt during the period of tension, and it is difficult to eliminate the effects of this policy.

The Turkish political analyst expects that “the government tends to accelerate normalization steps towards Egypt in the run-up to the elections, because the foreign policy file is a strong point for the opposition, which calls to reform Turkey’s foreign relations with its neighbours, especially with Egypt, and the government is trying to convince its supporters of its new policy towards the organization to normalize relations with Egypt.

For his part, Turkish writer Samir Salha said that the visit of an official Turkish delegation to Egypt, whether accompanied by a direct bilateral invitation or a regional meeting organized by Egypt, represents in itself a positive point which contributes to improve the relations and to push them towards a New stage.

Salha added: “But we were counting on a visit by the Turkish Foreign Minister, or even on the holding of the third round of exploratory diplomatic talks, especially since we have had no news of this round, and that everyone world wondered about its non-competition”. summons, and the outstanding files which have prevented the transition to a new phase of rapprochement, especially since there is a Turkish-Saudi and Turkish-Emirati dialogue, to open a new page of relations, while the dialogue with Egypt is not yet complete, and I personally count on a greater Saudi and Emirati role to bring views closer between Cairo and Ankara, provided that regional issues are discussed with the capitals of the Gulf. towards greater understanding.

election newspaper

Turkish political analyst Muhammad Obeidullah attributes the slow normalization of relations between Cairo and Ankara to the lack of trust between the two sides, noting that there is a general belief among Middle Eastern countries, including Israel , that Erdogan wants to normalize his relations with all his adversaries in order to convince the outgoing voters. Due to his mismanagement and the collapse of the economy, he began to restore the old Turkey, whose foreign relations were peaceful, to push voters to vote for him again in the crucial elections of 2023. In addition to reviving the deteriorating economy through the development of economic relations, expansion and spread in the Middle East by benefiting from the normalization stage can also be among the objectives of these measures.

Obaidullah explained that this belief pushes these countries to take precautions to respond to Erdogan’s demarches and demands, and to avoid shifting bilateral relations to a strategic level before ensuring that this new approach in his foreign policy stems of sincere internal conviction, adding: “There is no doubt that Egypt is at the forefront of those countries which are cautious in their relations with Erdogan, because they are in no hurry to repair their relations with Erdogan .

He added that although Erdogan “has taken steps which are seen as major concessions to him, such as the closure of the Muslim Brotherhood media in Turkey, Egypt, on the other hand, has not taken any significant action and has not has not yet decided to lift the ban imposed on the main Turkish channels and newspapers, including the Official Anatolia News agency”, believing that “the ice between Ankara and Cairo will not melt overnight and easily, and that Le Cairo will slow down its normalization moves with Erdogan until the next elections.” are held at the very least, and whether it will bring a new government or not.

The Turkish political analyst believes that the return of relations between the two parties will be tested for a full year, at least, and that they will continue only through economic relations and some symbolic steps, such as the return of the two countries’ ambassadors. politics, by interfering in the affairs of its neighbors within the framework of Islamist ideology, then a real and necessary evolution of relations can take place.

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