Despite reconciliation efforts, Turkey opposes Egypt’s designation of Brotherhood as ‘terrorist’

Turkey remains opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood being designated a “terrorist” group by Egypt despite a recent push to repair strained ties between the two countries, Reuters reported Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said yesterday.

He said Turkey viewed the Muslim Brotherhood as a political movement.

Last month, Turkey said it had resumed diplomatic contacts with Egypt, eight years after ties crumbled over a military coup which toppling the country’s first democratically elected president who stemmed from the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

Asked about Turkey’s ties with the Muslim Brotherhood in an interview with broadcaster Haberturk, Cavusoglu said Turkey’s international ties were not based on parties or individuals, and that Ankara’s issue with Cairo stemmed from what it views as a “coup”.

“We were against the coup in Egypt, not because it was the Muslim Brotherhood. If [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah] Sisi was in office that day and somebody else had carried out a coup, we would be shown the same principled stance,” Cavusoglu said.

“Our ties are not tied to one person or party. But we are opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood being declared a terrorist organization. It is a political movement that is trying to come to power through election,” he said.

A thaw in ties between the regional powerhouses could have repercussions around the Mediterranean. They have backed rival sides in the war in Libya and sealed conflicting maritime deals with other coastal states. But, Turkey has said a new period in Turkey-Egypt ties had begun and Cavusoglu said Ankara did not see “Libya as an area of competition” with Egypt.

In the first concrete sign of a thaw, Ankara last month asked Egyptian opposition TV channels operating in Turkey to moderate their criticism of Egypt. Cavusoglu said Turkey had made a similar request from other such foreign channels as well, and it was not specific to Egypt.

Last week, Cavusoglu said Turkey will send a delegation to Egypt in early May upon Cairo’s invitation, and that he would meet his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry later.

Turkey, Egypt talks in May to restore ties

A Turkish delegation is to visit Egypt early next month to mend strained relations, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a few days ago.

“Egypt has invited a delegation from Turkey. The delegation will go to Egypt at the beginning of May,” he said during a live interview on NTV television. “The talks will be held at the level of deputy foreign ministers.”

He added that “a new era is beginning” following his telephone call with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, last week.

“Egypt is an important country for the Muslim world, Africa, Palestine and everyone. The stability and prosperity of Egypt are important for everyone,” Cavusoglu added.

Last month Turkey announced that it had resumed diplomatic contacts with Cairo after years of strained relations following the 2013 coup which overthrew former-late President Mohamed Morsi, who was a Muslim Brotherhood leader and had the support of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ankara and Cairo have also clashed over maritime demarcation disputes in the Mediterranean and Turkey’s involvement in Libya.

It was also reported last month that Turkey had demanded that Istanbul-based Egyptian opposition TV channels should tone down criticism of coup leader turned President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

However, until recently, there have been less public statements from Cairo confirming any changes in relations. An Egyptian official from the Foreign Ministry was also quoted last month as saying, “there is no such thing of resuming diplomatic contacts”. Earlier this week, Shoukry said that Egypt was “eager” to start talks on rebuilding ties with Turkey in a way that serves both countries.

Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia have also warmed in recent months and yesterday the Saudi Press Agency reported that King Salman Bin Abdulaziz had received a phone call from Erdogan who had extended his greetings to the king for the month of Ramadan.