Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş made an overture toward reconciliation with Egypt on Wednesday, asserting that any amelioration would depend on Egypt blocking the execution of former President Mohamed Morsi, reported Bloomsberg news.
“We think a statement of will by Egypt to the world in this direction is necessary both for democratization of Egypt and normalizing relations with Turkey. Turkey and Egypt are two key countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and it is natural for them to normalize friendly and brotherly relations,” Kurtulmuş said.
Kurtulmuş also called on the Egyptian government to review the trials of Muslim Brotherhood members by courts that are not impartial and to hold fair and multi-party elections that were promised following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
After Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a close ally to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was removed from office in 2013, the Egyptian government instituted a wide-reaching crackdown on the group, declaring it a terrorist organization. Brotherhood members have since been subject to mass arrests, death sentences issued en masse, lethal security raids and media scrutiny.
Morsi has been held in prison since his ouster, standing trial in numerous cases and most recently being sentenced to life in prison in June for allegedly leaking national security secrets to Qatar. At the time, the former president had already been served a death sentence in a separate case where he was accused of abetting a 2011 jailbreak and another life sentence for collaborating with Palestinian Islamist resistance group Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard against the interests of the Egyptian state. The former president also received a 20-year sentence for conspiring to kill and illegally detain participants in protests outside the Presidential Palace in 2012.
Despite the tension, there have been hints that Turkish-Egyptian relations may improve. In a statement similar to Kurtulmuş’s, Egypt’s Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel Aal told Sputnik News on Thursday that Egypt would be willing to cooperate with Turkey, provided it did not intervene in Egypt’s internal affairs.
In a statement published on July 5, Erdoğan contended that he did not have a problem with Egyptian leadership but criticized the way in which Brotherhood members’ trials have been conducted. Erdoğan has previously stated that the resumption of normal relations with Egypt would depend on Morsi’s release and the repeal of the mass death sentences issued to Brotherhood members.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid responded to Erdogan’s remarks, saying, “Egypt, for its part, has reservations about dealing with Turkey’s leadership, which insists on adopting regionally floundering policies, while reminding the Turkish side of the need to bear in mind that the Egyptian people is the one who chose its leadership through free and democratic elections.”