Egyptian–Turkish relations are bilateral relations between Egypt and Turkey. Egypt and Turkey are bound by strong religious, cultural and historical ties, but diplomatic ties between the two have remained extremely friendly at times and extremely strained at others. For three centuries, Egypt was part of the Ottoman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople in modern-day Turkey.
Turkey established diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1925 at the level of Charge d’ Affaires and upgraded its mission in Cairo to Ambassadorial level in 1948. Both countries have embassies and consulate generals in the other's capitals. Both countries have signed a free trade agreement in December 2005. Both countries are full members of the Union for the Mediterranean. A natural gas deal between Egypt and Turkey—the largest joint Egyptian-Turkish project to date, estimated to cost $4 billion—is being implemented. On 16 April 2008, Egypt and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding to improve and further military relations and cooperation between the two countries.
Relations however have been quite tense on many occasions in history of both countries including the Nasser era in Egypt in the 1950s and 60s. It has also strongly deteriorated in the period following the overthrow of the Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013 following a 48-hour deadline on July 1, marking the end of anti-government protests that took place between June 30 and July 3 that year.
On 23 November 2013, the Egyptian government expelled the Turkish ambassador in Cairo after a months-long diplomatic crisis.
Relations under Gamal Abdel NasserEdit
In the midst of the Cold War and during the rule of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, relations between both countries have soured dramatically due to Turkey's membership in the British-led Baghdad Pact, which Nasser viewed as a major threat to his efforts to eliminate Western presence in the Arab world, and because of the growing influence of Nasser's Pan-Arab ideology, called Nasserism. In addition, Turkey was the first Muslim majority country to recognize the State of Israel, Egypt's archrival at the time, showing even more its clear alignment to the West. In 1958, Egypt entered a brief union with Syria, Turkey's southern neighbor with whom it shared longtime diplomatic and border disputes, causing severe tensions between the two countries with Turkey responding by its engagement in a secret "peripheral alliance" with Israel. The tensions reached their peak in 1957 prior to the unification with Syria when Nasser, fearful of a Baghdad Pact toppling of the Syrian government, sent a contingent force to assist Syrian forces that was dispatched near the Syrian-Turkish border as a response to a Turkish threat of incursion when a huge number of troops amassed along the border. This near-confrontation between Egyptian and Turkish troops marked a dark spot in both countries' relations and eventually led to both sides withdrawing, ending the possible escalation of the crisis.
Relations under post-2011 Egyptian revolutionEdit
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made his first three days official visit to Egypt on 12 September 2011, and was accompanied by six ministers and approximately 200 businessmen. This visit was considered a diplomatic success and was met with much enthusiasm by Egyptians. CNN reported some Egyptians saying "We consider him as the Islamic leader in the Middle East", while others were appreciative of his role in supporting Gaza. Erdogan was later honored in Tahrir Square by members of the Egyptian Revolution Youth Union, and members of the Turkish embassy were presented with a coat of arms in acknowledgment of the Prime Minister’s support of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.
A week after he left, Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu proclaimed his vision of a strategic alliance between Egypt and Turkey which he described as an "Axis of Democracy". However, some voiced concerns that the Egyptian revolution was not fulfilled and that Erdogan was seeking his own country's strategic interests. It was feared that by forming an alliance with the SCAF interim government in Egypt during the country’s transition to democracy, Erdogan may have tipped the balance in favor of those that stand between the Egyptians and their freedom.
Relations following the removal of Mohamed Morsi from officeEdit
Following the anti-government protests in the middle of 2013 that led to the 2013 overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi who was strongly backed by Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), signs of strained relations rose between the newly appointed interim government of Egypt and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government in Turkey, mainly due to Erdoğan's pro-Brotherhood views, culminating with the August 2013 sit-in raids in Rabaa and Nahda by security forces, where sit-ins organized by the Muslim Brotherhood were dispersed, leading to clashes that resulted in 638 deaths, of which 43 were police officers. The incident resulted in both countries recalling their respective ambassadors and was met with several verbal assaults by Erdoğan, who described the event as "anti-democratic" and referred to it as a "massacre," while suggesting that Egypt's leaders should be put under a "fair and transparent trial." This was followed by a suspension of military exercises involving the two countries. Erdoğan also accused the Egyptian military of conspiring with Israel to topple Morsi's government at an expanded meeting of the provincial chairs of his ruling AKP and claimed to possess "proof" for that: "This is what has been implemented in Egypt. Who is behind this? Israel. We have evidence". The claim was rejected by the Egyptian interim government, describing it as "baseless" and intended to "strike at the unity of Egyptians," with presidential spokesperson Ahmed Muslimani saying that "agents of the West should not give lessons in patriotism".
In response to Erdoğan's statements, Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour announced on his Twitter account on 17 August that Egypt would to sign the international document recognizing the Armenian Genocide:
|“||Our representatives at the United Nations will sign the international document that acknowledges the Armenian genocide, which was committed by the Turkish military, leading to the deaths of one million.||”|
In addition, dozens of Egyptian articles have been published condemning Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide and urging the country's new leaders to recognize it. There have also been calls[by whom?] to erect a memorial monument commemorating the victims of the genocide in Cairo.
On 23 November 2013, the Egyptian government expelled the Turkish ambassador to the country, Huseyin Avni Botsali, and recalled their ambassador from Ankara indefinitely after several months of tensions with Turkey's ruling AKP-led government. In response, Turkey also barred the Egyptian ambassador, who was out of the country at the time, and declared him a persona non grata. The declaration came a day after Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeated his criticism of Egypt's interim government and his call for the urgent release of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Badr Abdelatty accused Erdoğan of meddling in the country's internal affairs by raising public opinion against the Egyptian government and supporting proscribed organizations that are bent on destabilizing the nation.
Relations under Abdel Fattah al-SisiEdit
In July 2014, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry warned that relations would worsen since Erdoğan called Sisi a "tyrant". This comes after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as an "illegitimate tyrant", saying that Egypt could not be relied upon to negotiate a truce with Israel during Operation Protective Edge. "Is Sisi a party (to a ceasefire)? Sisi is a tyrant himself," Erdogan told reporters. "He is not different from the others," he said, adding that it was Egypt's current rulers who were blocking humanitarian aid channels to the Gaza Strip ruled by the Hamas Islamist militant group. Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Erdogan's comments were "unacceptable".
The Egyptian foreign ministry also said that Egypt has cancelled joint naval drills with Turkey over Turkey's interference in Egypt's domestic affairs.
In September 2014, Egypt's foreign minister cancelled a meeting with Turkish president Erdoğan requested by Turkey after Erdoğan made a speech critical of Egypt in the UN General Assembly. An advisor to the Turkish president has denied that the countries' leaders were planning to meet. However, later Egypt's foreign ministry handed out a scanned document of Turkey's meeting proposal to the media and was published by Egypt's Youm7 newspaper. Sisi's administration also decided to cancel the "Ro-Ro" agreement with Turkey, blocking Turkey from transporting Turkish containers to the Gulf via Egyptian ports. An intense campaign started by Egypt and Saudi Arabia against Turkey made it lose its predicted easy victory of membership in the United Nations Security Council.
Following the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave an interview with Al Jazeera explaining that “President al-Sisi has nothing to do with democracy, and that he’s killed thousands of his own people.” The remarks were condemned by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid saying that the Turkish president “keeps confusing matter and is losing the ability to make sound judgments” and that this reflects “the difficult circumstances the Turkish president has been through. “He cannot differentiate between an evident revolution where more than 30 million Egyptians demanded the support of the Egyptian military and between military coups as we know them,” the statement explained.
On November 22, 2017, Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered the detention of 29 people suspected of espionage on behalf of Turkey against Egypt national interest and joining a terrorist organization. They are also accused of money laundering, conducting overseas calls without a license and trading currency without a license. According to the results of an investigation by the General Intelligence Services, the group has been recording phone calls and passing information to Turkish intelligence as part of a plan to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power in Egypt.
Proposal to recognize the Armenian GenocideEdit
Due to ongoing deterioration of relations between Egypt and Turkey, the Government of Egypt led by el-Sisi, has been receiving proposal to recognize the Armenian Genocide, a sensitive subject which Turkey has many times denounced. Filmmaker Mohamed Hanafi had produced a movie, "Who Killed the Armenians?", in response to ongoing tensions between Turkey and Egypt, as an act of Egyptian solidarity to Armenia.
In February 2019, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced it had implicitly recognized the Armenian Genocide, further deteriorated the relationship between Turkey and Egypt.
Proposal to grant asylum to Fetullah GülenEdit
MP Emad Mahrous called on the Egyptian government to grant asylum to Gülen. In the request, sent to Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel-Aal, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on 24 July 2016, Mahrous notes that "[Turkey] was a moderate Muslim country that has become an Islamist dictatorship at the hands of [Turkish president] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his affiliated Muslim Brotherhood political party", arguing that it was "highly distasteful" that Erdoğan has requested Gülen's extradition from the United States while at the same time "... giving shelter to hundreds of leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organisation and members of other bloody militant Islamist groups which attack Egypt by day and night". Mahrous argues that not only has Erdoğan accused Gülen of plotting the failed coup attempt, in addition to using this allegation as an excuse to engage in mass purges against public institutions allegedly loyal to Gülen - "at the same time, Erdogan has decided to turn Turkey into a media battleground against Egypt, with Turkish intelligence providing funds for several Muslim Brotherhood TV channels to attack Egypt". Mahrous stated that his advice to Gülen is to not wait until his extradition, but instead leave the US and obtain permanent asylum in Egypt.
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