Egypt and Turkey Seek to Improve Relations, Aiming for Reconciliation

Egypt and Turkey are making significant efforts to reconcile their strained relations and pave the way for improved diplomatic cooperation.

Egypt and Turkey Seek to Improve Relations

For years, there has been a diplomatic freeze between both countries, but now Turkey and Egypt are looking to reconcile. Turkish President Erdogan spoke of a “turning point” during his visit to Cairo.

Egypt and Turkey aim to further improve their relations after years of tension. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed their support for “a new phase in the relationship” during talks in Cairo. They also advocated for increasing trade to nearly €14 billion annually within a few years and diplomatic cooperation in the Middle East and Africa.

“I am convinced that this visit will be a new turning point in our relations,” Erdogan said during a joint press conference. Al-Sisi described it as a “new chapter” in the relationship between the two countries. He also accepted Erdogan’s invitation to visit Turkey in April.

Demand for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip

Both presidents agreed on the war between Israel and the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Erdogan and al-Sisi criticized Israeli warfare and called for a ceasefire. Erdogan stated that Turkey would work with Egypt to stop the bloodshed. Attacks on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip by Israel were deemed “insanity” and must not be allowed to continue.

Due to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, more than a million refugees from other parts of the Palestinian territories have been stranded in the city bordering Egypt.

Al-Sisi criticized “Israel’s obstacles” that have resulted in delayed humanitarian aid reaching the Gaza Strip. Egypt controls the Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip, while Israel insists on controlling every aid delivery. Egypt, together with Qatar and the US, plays a crucial role in efforts to secure the release of Israeli hostages from the Gaza Strip and establish a new ceasefire in the coastal region.

Reconciliation after strained relations

The visit marked the culmination of years of efforts to improve relations between the two countries. Last year, they each reappointed ambassadors. Furthermore, Turkey announced its intention to support Egypt with military drones from early 2024. This reconciliation comes as part of Turkey’s shift in foreign policy following its perceived regional isolation. Although Al-Sisi and Erdogan held a meeting on the sidelines of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, it was Erdogan’s first visit to Egypt since 2012.

The political dispute escalated in 2013 when the Turkish government repeatedly referred to the ousting of then-Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt by the military as an illegitimate “coup.” Al-Sisi came to power after Morsi’s removal. The Egyptian leadership, in turn, accused Turkey of supporting Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Egypt has been cracking down harshly on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, with many being imprisoned. Both countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2013.

In the Libya conflict, Egypt and Turkey have supported different sides. There is also a dispute over potential natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.