Turkish delegation to visit Egypt for ‘normalisation’ talks

The visit in May will be followed by a meeting between the Egyptian and Turkish foreign ministers, says Turkish FM.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a news conference in Ankara
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said a new period was beginning in Turkey-Egypt ties [File: Umit Bektas/Reuters]

A Turkish delegation will visit Egypt next month as part of Ankara’s efforts to mend ties with Cairo after the two countries snapped diplomatic relations in 2013, the foreign minister said on Thursday.

“Egypt invited a delegation from Turkey. The delegation will go in early May,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the private NTV broadcaster.

“We will discuss openly how to normalise relations.”

Cavusoglu on Thursday said the first delegation talks would be at the level of deputy foreign ministers, before a meeting between the ministers.

“I hope we will all together further improve relations,” he said.

Thaw in relations

Ankara and Cairo froze ties after the 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, who forged close ties with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

That year, both countries expelled each others’ ambassadors and Cairo had then declared the Turkish envoy “persona non grata”.

But Turkish officials last month said Ankara had established the first diplomatic contacts with Cairo since 2013 as part of wider efforts to repair relations with other Middle Eastern rivals.

Cavusoglu’s announcement comes a day after he said a new period was beginning in Turkey-Egypt ties.

Tone down criticisms

Last month, members of Egypt’s Istanbul-based opposition media said Turkish officials had asked them to “tone down” the criticism of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The request appeared to be an attempt by Turkey to curry favour with Egypt in a bid to mend relations.

An Egyptian broadcaster, known for his outspoken criticism of Cairo on an Istanbul-based channel, said on Saturday he was going on an “unlimited leave”. Moataz Matar, 46, made the announcement on his popular daily show With Moataz, which he has presented for several years on the liberal El-Sharq channel.

Matar said he was not forced by Turkey or the channel to leave but added he did not want to “embarrass” anyone. “I will come back when I am able to tell the truth on El-Sharq again as I always have,” he added.

After the Arab Spring, Istanbul became a hub of the Arab media critical of their governments back home, especially for Egyptian media linked to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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