Dialogue between Egypt, Turkey halted over Turkish practices in Libya, FM Shoukry tells Al-Arabiya

Ahram Online , Sunday 30 Oct 2022

Dialogue between Egypt and Turkey to normalise ties has come to a stop, as Turkish practices in the conflict-torn Libya remain unchanged, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.


Cairo and Ankara held two rounds of exploratory talks last year – headed by the Egyptian and Turkish deputy foreign ministers – in a bid to mend their ruptured relations.

The split between the two countries dates to the 2013 ouster of Egypt’s late Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, who was backed by the government of Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president and then prime minister.

"The two exploratory meetings allowed the chance to express our concerns about the regional situations. This path has not resumed, as there have no changes in terms of Turkey's practices in Libya," Shoukry said on Saturday in an interview with Saudi TV news channel Al-Arabiya.

The crisis in Libya, which borders Egypt to west, has further strained relations between the two countries as Turkey has introduced thousands of paid Syrian fighters into the conflict as well as continued its support to the outgoing Government of National Unity (GNU), which is headed by Abdel-Hamid Dbeibah.

The situation heated up in early October after the Tripoli-based GNU government signed a series of preliminary economic agreements with Turkey that might include energy exploration in maritime areas.

Egypt asserts the GNU’s mandate has expired and is not authorised to sign such deals.

Egypt’s assertion follows a no-confidence vote in the government by Libya’s parliament in September 2021, the GNU’s failure to hold agreed-upon elections in December 2021 and the parliament’s appointment of Fathi Bashagha as Prime Minister in February 2022.

However, Dbeibah's administration – installed in February 2021 as part of a UN-led peace process – has so far prevented Bashagha from taking office, arguing that the next administration should be the product of elections.

Shoukry said that this situation violates the UN-brokered Skhirat agreement – which defines the authority and duration of Libya’s interim government – adding that “the international community for one reason or another, does not raise its voice to clarify this matter.”

“There is another government that cannot assume its responsibilities,” Egypt’s top diplomat said.

The principle of respecting the legislative institution is being overlooked, he noted in reference to the parliament’s no-confidence motion.

This matter, said Shoukry, further complicates the situation in Libya and makes it more difficult to reach a common agreement between Libyan parties in order to hold the long-awaited elections.

“If we want an international system based on rules, these rules should be respected without duplicity,” he said, adding “these rules should be implemented when it comes to any region, any conflict or any political situation, and not to be averted or disregarded, which we feel in Libya.”

Shoukry, In addition, lamented the international community for not taking any "strict" action" to ensure the exit of foreign forces from Libya.

Libya was plunged into chaos following the 2011 overthrow and killing of president Muammar Gaddafi in a Western-backed uprising, with myriad-armed groups and foreign powers moving to fill the power vacuum.

Libya has been struggling to reach an agreement between its rival administrations to hold the national elections.

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