Turkish foreign minister set to visit Egypt as ties thaw - M5 Dergi
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Turkish foreign minister set to visit Egypt as ties thaw

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Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will make an official visit to Egypt on Saturday, the ministry announced Friday. The first visit in almost a decade by a Turkish foreign minister, it follows a landmark visit to Türkiye recently by Egypt’s top diplomat.

Relations between the two countries have long been frozen, before an unprecedented handshake in Qatar between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi during a World Cup visit to the Gulf country by both leaders.

Çavuşoğlu is scheduled to meet his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. Other details of his itinerary were not announced.

In 2021, Türkiye announced that it had resumed diplomatic contact with Egypt and wanted to improve cooperation after years of tensions that began with the disruption of relations in 2013. In May 2021, a delegation of senior Turkish officials traveled to Egypt for an official visit – the first since 2013 – to discuss normalizing diplomatic relations amid efforts by the two countries to improve bilateral ties that deteriorated following the Arab Spring.

At the end of the visit, the two countries issued a joint statement describing the exploratory round of bilateral talks between them as “frank and in-depth.” On May 7, 2021, Erdoğan announced the start of a new phase in relations with Egypt, stressing that the talks would continue, develop and expand.

Egypt and Türkiye have not deployed ambassadors since 2013 when relations worsened following the ousting of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi by then-military chief el-Sissi, now the country’s president. Türkiye-Egypt ties have continued at the level of charge d’affairs since 2013. During this period, brief meetings were held between the foreign ministers of the two countries on various occasions. Recently, however, signs of a possible reconciliation have come from both countries, particularly due to the changing dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Türkiye-Greece crisis over the region’s energy resources. Meanwhile, the Turkish Embassy in Cairo and Consulate in Alexandria, as well as the Egyptian Embassy in Ankara and Consulate in Istanbul, have continued their usual activities.

Türkiye has engaged in an effort to mend its frayed ties with regional powers, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Erdoğan said earlier that Türkiye hopes to maximize its cooperation with Egypt and Gulf nations “on a win-win basis,” at a time when Ankara intensified diplomacy to mend its fraught ties with Cairo and some Gulf Arab nations after years of tensions.

So-called “earthquake diplomacy” appears to add momentum to the normalization of ties. Greece, whose relations with Türkiye deteriorated, expressed hope to restore ties after the Feb. 6 earthquakes that claimed thousands of lives in Türkiye’s southeast. Greece and Egypt were among the countries sending humanitarian assistance to the country following the catastrophe.

Last month, Shoukry paid a solidarity visit to the disaster zone where he met Çavuşoğlu as they posed together in front of an Egyptian vessel carrying humanitarian aid in the city of Mersin. Egypt has provided over 1,200 tons of aid material since the earthquakes. In addition, Egypt’s trade ship Al Hurreya arrived Monday morning at the Port of Mersin with 525 tons of additional aid, including tents, blankets, mobile toilets, beds and hygiene products. El-Sissi was among the leaders who called Erdoğan after the earthquakes.

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