Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who landed in the Cairo airport late last night, emphasised that he brought with him six of his ministers to focus on setting up a tangible strategic alliance between both countries.
During an interview with El-Ashera Masaan (Ten at Night) programme, the 57-year-old said he aims to come to as many mutual agreements with Egypt as possible during his visit, saying his vision exceeds mere bilateral international understandings.
Among Erdogan’s targets is cancelling the need for visas for travel between Egypt and Turkey. Military agreements are in also the cards, he said.
“During my visit we will discuss what Turkey will offer Egypt, and what Egypt will offer Turkey in order to increase international cooperation between us,” he said.
“Turkey has been backing the Egyptian uprising from day one … it was quite expected,” Erdogan explained.
Much to Erdogan’s popularity in the Arab World, Turkey has robustly supported the ongoing revolution in Yemen, has backed Syrians against the domineering regime of Bashar Al-Assad and was seen as supportive of Egypt’s own January 25 Revolution.
“When we look at the region, we will find that Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Turkey are the most important countries. For this reason, there has to be some sort of cooperation among these nations,” Erdogan elaborated.
Erdogan received a warm welcome at the Cairo Airport. Actually, the welcome mat was laid weeks leading up to his arrival, when many Egyptians posted his photo as their profile picture after he decided to reduce Turkish representation in Israel in a downgrade of diplomatic relations.
That decision came after the Jewish state confirmed last week that it would not apologise for the May 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship, in which nine Turks were killed.
In Egypt, many criticise the comparatively weak reply by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to Israel’s killing last month of Egyptian soldiers at the border - an incident that has greatly disturbed the relationship between the countries. Critics say SCAF should have reacted similarly to Turkey.
Erdogan, whose face was even emblazoned on a number of billboards in Cairo of late, is to meet Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Essam Sharaf today to discuss the potential cooperation between both nations.