Egyptian–Turkish relations are bilateral relations between Egypt and Turkey. Egypt and Turkey are bound by strong religious, cultural and historical ties, but diplomatic ties between the two have remained extremely friendly at times and extremely strained at others. For five centuries, Egypt was part of the Ottoman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople in modern-day Turkey. Turkey established diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1925 at the level of Charge d’ Affaires and upgraded its mission in Cairo to Ambassadorial level in 1948. Both countries have embassies and consulate generals in the other's capitals. Both countries have signed a free trade agreement in December 2005. Both countries are full members of the Union for the Mediterranean. A natural gas deal between Egypt and Turkey—the largest joint Egyptian-Turkish project to date, estimated to cost $4 billion—is being implemented. On 16 April 2008, Egypt and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding to improve and further military relations and cooperation between the two countries. Relations however have been quite tense on many occasions in history of both countries including the Nasser era in Egypt in the 50s and 60s. It has also strongly deteriorated in the period following the ouster of the Egyptian Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the military on 3 July 2013. On 23 November 2013, the Egyptian government expelled the Turkish ambassador in Cairo after a months-long diplomatic crisis.
Relations during the Nasser era in Egypt
In the midst of the Cold War and during the rule of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, relations between both countries have soured dramatically due to Turkey's membership in the British-led Baghdad Pact, whom Nasser viewed as a major threat to his efforts to eliminate Western presence in the Arab world, and because of the growing influence of Nasser's Pan-Arab ideology, called Nasserism. In addition, Turkey was the first Muslim majority country to recognize the State of Israel, Egypt's arch rival at the time, showing even more its clear alignment to the West. In 1958, Egypt entered a brief union with Syria, Turkey's southern neighbor with whom it shared longtime diplomatic and border disputes, causing severe tensions between the two countries with Turkey responding by its engagement in a secret "peripheral alliance" with Israel. The tensions reached their peak in 1957 prior to the unification with Syria when Nasser, fearful of a Baghdad Pact toppling of the Syrian regime, sent a contingent force to assist Syrian forces that was dispatched near the Syrian-Turkish border as a response to a Turkish threat of incursion when a huge number of troops amassed along the border. This near-confrontation between Egyptian and Turkish troops marked a dark spot in both countries' relations and eventually led to both sides withdrawing, ending the possible escalation of the crisis.
Relations during the Erdogan era in Turkey
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made his first three days official visit to Egypt on 12 September 2011, and was accompanied by six ministers and approximately 200 businessmen. This visit was considered a diplomatic success and was met with much enthusiasm by Egyptians. CNN reported some Egyptians saying "We consider him as the Islamic leader in the Middle East", while others were appreciative of his role in supporting Gaza. Erdogan was later honored in Tahrir Square by members of the Egyptian Revolution Youth Union, and members of the Turkish embassy were presented with a coat of arms in acknowledgement of the Prime Minister’s support of the Egyptian Revolution.
A week after he left, Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu proclaimed his vision of a strategic alliance between Egypt and Turkey which he described as an "Axis of Democracy". However, some voiced concerns that the Egyptian revolution was not fulfilled and that Erdogan was seeking his own country's strategic interests. It was feared that by forming an alliance with the military junta in Egypt during the country’s transition to democracy, Erdogan may have tipped the balance in favor of those that stand between the Egyptians and their freedom.
Post 30 June revolution tensions
Following the Egyptian revolution in early July 2013 that ousted former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi who was strongly backed by Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), signs of strained relations rose between the newly appointed government of Egypt and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government in Turkey culminating with the August clashes when Egyptian security forces raided pro-Morsi protest camps organized by the Muslim Brotherhood resulting in hundreds of fatalities. The incident resulted in both countries recalling their respective ambassadors and was met with several verbal assaults by Turkey's PM who described the event as anti-democratic and called it a "massacre" while suggesting that Egypt's leaders should be put under "fair and transparent trial". This was followed by a suspension of military exercises involving the two countries. Erdoğan also accused the Egyptian military of conspiring with Israel to topple Morsi's government at an expanded meeting of the provincial chairs of his ruling AKP and claimed to possess "proof" for that: "This is what has been implemented in Egypt. Who is behind this? Israel. We have evidence". The claim was denied by Egypt's interim government describing it as "baseless" and intended to "strike at the unity of Egyptians" with Presidential spokesperson Ahmed Muslimani saying that "agents of the West should not give lessons in patriotism".
In response to Erdoğan's statements, Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour announced on his Twitter account on 17 August that Egypt decided to sign the international document recognizing the Armenian Genocide:
“Our representatives at the United Nations will sign the international document that acknowledges the Armenian genocide, which was committed by the Turkish military, leading to the deaths of one million.”
In addition, dozens of Egyptian articles have been published condemning Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide and urging the country's new leaders to recognise it. There have also been calls[by whom?] to erect a memorial monument commemorating the victims of the genocide in Cairo.
On 23 November 2013, the Egyptian government expelled the Turkish ambassador to the country, Huseyin Avni Botsali, and recalled their ambassador from Ankara indefinitely after several months of tensions with Turkey's ruling AKP-led government. In response, Turkey also barred the Egyptian ambassador, who was out of the country at the time, and declared him a persona non grata. The declaration came a day after Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeated his criticism of Egypt's interim government and his call for the urgent release of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. The Egyptian authorities accused Ankara of meddling in the country's internal affairs by raising public opinion against the government and backing proscribed organizations that are bent on destabilizing the nation.
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- Rubin & Kirisci 2001, pp. 102
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- "Adly Mansour on Twitter: يوقع غداً مندوبنا الدائم بالأمم المتحدة على الوثيقة الدولية التى تعترف بمذابح الأرمن والتى ارتكبها الجيش التركى وراح ضحيتها مليون قتيل". 17 August 2013.
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- Egyptian embassy in Ankara
- Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Egypt
- Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Turkey
- New Era in the Egyptian – Turkish Relations