News Analysis: Restoring ties with Egypt key step in Türkiye's regional detente push-Xinhua

News Analysis: Restoring ties with Egypt key step in Türkiye's regional detente push

Source: Xinhua| 2023-03-21 22:05:45|Editor: huaxia

by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, March 21 (Xinhua) -- After a decade of political tensions and diplomatic rupture, Türkiye and Egypt are pushing their bilateral ties forward, a move that represents a key step in Ankara's reconciliation with regional countries, experts said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on Saturday for talks in Cairo on a one-day official visit to Egypt upon Shoukry's invitation, the first such meeting between the two countries in 11 years.

During a joint press conference, Cavusoglu said that Ankara and Cairo were to raise diplomatic relations to ambassador level "as soon as possible".

This development is the culmination of several rounds of diplomatic talks in the past two year. The bilateral ties had turned sour since late 2013 when the two countries expelled each other's ambassadors after former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July that year and his Türkiye-backed Muslim Brotherhood group was outlawed.

In the wake of the deadly earthquakes in southeastern Türkiye in early February, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi extended his condolences to Erdogan over the phone, and Egypt sent aid material to the ravaged region.

"The normalization process with Egypt is essentially the crowning jewel of Türkiye's recent normalization paradigm," Batu Coskun, an Ankara-based independent political risk analyst, told Xinhua.

"Diplomatically, Ankara's branching out to Cairo signifies an important step in reconciling with the Arab world generally," Coskun said, adding that Ankara has recalibrate its foreign policy to opt for detente after years of trouble and strife with regional rivals, having successfully pushed for normalization with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Ankara-based foreign policy analyst Serkan Demirtas said that a reconciliation between regional powers Türkiye and Egypt may "also contribute to the de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East in general."

Facing a tough campaign for re-election in May, Erdogan, an incumbent candidate, is seeking to use the diplomatic detente to bolster his chances, as Türkiye's economic woes, represented by high inflation and a weak currency, have made the race all the more challenging for him, according to observers.

Economic concerns are seen as a driving force for the rapprochement as trade and business have continued over the past few years between Ankara and Cairo despite their frosty relationship.

"A detente between Cairo and Ankara is certainly a desirable situation for both countries. Both Egypt and Türkiye are facing economic pressures. The restoration of bilateral ties should increase the volume of trade and commerce," Batu Coskun said.

In 2022, the volume of bilateral trade reached 7.7 billion U.S. dollars, a 14-percent increase compared to 2021, according to the Turkish Ministry of Trade.

But despite their efforts to reboot their ties, Egypt and Türkiye are still at odds in the Libyan crisis where they support opposite sides of the internal conflict.

"If Ankara and Cairo can instrument this delicate normalization process, then Türkiye's recent foreign policy endeavors will culminate in a rather successful manner," Coskun added.