Egypt weighing Turkish policies in bid to build relations

Egypt is currently assessing Turkish policies after since Cairo proposed items for Ankara to take into account to remove all obstacles that hinder building mutual relations, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Saturday.

Egypt is working on exploring how Ankara is ready to have relations with Cairo on a proper basis and its compliance with international law, Egypt's state-owned newspaper Al Ahramcited Shoukry as telling Egyptian Sada Al-Balad TV channel.

It is a “sacred matter’’ for Ankara to be removed from anything that destabilises Egypt's security, Shoukry said.

Shourky’s remarks arrive as Turkey in recent months has been seeking rapprochement with regional rival Egypt. Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been fractured since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in a July 2013 military coup and launched a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had forged close ties with the ousted Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi, opposed the military takeover and has frequently denounced el-Sisi as a dictator. Turkey has since become a safe haven for Egyptian exiles opposed to the government in Cairo.

If Turkey does not extradite Muslim Brotherhood members to Egypt or close MB-affiliated TV channels, the situation would be more difficult, the Egyptian official said, adding all these policies are being monitored and ties could be normally resumed in case of any progress. 

In March, Turkish authorities asked three Istanbul-based Egyptian Brotherhood-linked TV channels to soften their critical political coverage of Egypt's government but Ankara the next month said it opposed to the Muslim Brotherhoodbeing declared a terrorist organisation.

Shoukry went on to say Cyprus and Greece were not upset with the Egyptian-Turkish rapprochement, adding that they were being informed about “all the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”

For years now, Turkey has been locked in a dispute with EU members Greece and Cyprus over competing claims at sea in a region believed to be rich in natural gas deposits. Ankara has dispatched naval vessels and seismic survey ships to the area, resulting in EU sanctions against Turkish energy executives and a deterioration in wider relations.

Egypt and Greece inked their own maritime deal last year that angered Turkey. Cairo insists it was keen to mind Turkish sensitivities.