Egypt and Turkey are set to engage in talks to discuss renewing diplomatic ties between the two nations for the first time in a decade, Egyptian officials said at a news conference with Turkish officials in Cairo on Saturday.
In the chaos that is Turkey’s foreign policy, the country is once again trying to reconcile with Egypt. This comes after a year or more in which Ankara was trying to heal ties with Cairo.
Ankara’s opposition to Egypt’s leadership and its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, however, will always be a source of tension for the two. The question is whether Ankara can really reduce its backing for groups such as the Brotherhood and Hamas enough to appease Egypt.
In 2022, The Jerusalem Post reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Qatar, according to reports. Turkey tried to downplay “hard feelings” in the talks about Ankara’s previous attempts to oppose the government of Egypt and to stoke extremism, the reports said.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his talks with his Turkish counterpart on Saturday had been "honest, deep and transparent" as the two countries look to restore full diplomatic ties.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Cairo, Shoukry said they had discussed the possibility of restoring ambassadors.
"We will come to talks (on restoring ambassadors) at the appropriate time, depending on the positive results it brings," Shoukry added.
Turkey will upgrade its diplomatic relations with Egypt to ambassador level "as soon as possible," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday during a visit to Cairo.
"I'm very glad that we are taking concrete steps for normalizing relations with Egypt... We will do our best not to rupture our ties again in future," Cavusoglu told a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry.
Last month, Shoukry visited Turkey in a show of solidarity after the massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria.
The two countries have also been at odds in recent years over Libya, where they backed opposing factions in an unresolved conflict, and also over maritime borders in the gas-rich Eastern Mediterranean.
Consultations between senior foreign ministry officials in Ankara and Cairo began in 2021, amid a push by Turkey to ease tensions with Egypt, the UAE, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As part of that tentative reconciliation, Ankara asked Egyptian opposition TV channels operating in Turkey to moderate their criticism of Egypt.
Extremism levels have changed in the Middle East
Many countries have come to realize that the era of extremism and chaos in the region began with the 2011 Arab Spring and then became an era of civil war in Syria and the rise and fall of ISIS in Iraq. That era is now behind us.
With the shift in Ankara’s policy comes a third phase of the AKP’s rule over Turkey.
It began with “zero problems with our neighbors” between 2003 and 2012. Then it became “problems with everyone” as Ankara tore up its ties with Israel, Egypt and other countries, stoked war with Armenia, invaded Syria, threatened Greece and France and even threatened Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Ankara’s policies stretched far as it sought to position itself as a champion of “Islamic” causes. Turkey now wants normalization with Egypt.
“Recently, we experienced a problem in a nine-year period,” Erdogan said. “We took this step that evening, especially with the intervention of Qatar’s emir. After overcoming that difficulty, we had a narrow-scoped meeting with al-Sisi for half an hour or 45 minutes.”
Seth Frantzmann and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.