Egypt and Turkey could sign a deal on maritime demarcation in the eastern Mediterranean if their ties allow such a move, Reuters quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying on Wednesday.
The Turkish minister’s remarks came during a press conference with his Georgian counterpart Davit Zalkaliani held in Ankara on Wednesday.
In February, Egypt announced the start of an international bid round for the exploration of oil and natural gas in 24 blocks. Nine of the 24 blocks are located in the Mediterranean Sea, according to a statement by the Egyptian petroleum ministry.
Commenting on the Egyptian tender in the Mediterranean, Cavusoglu said that Ankara positively viewed Egypt’s exploration bids within its own maritime borders given that the tender respected Turkey's territorial waters.
Egyptian and Turkish ties have been strained since the 2013 ouster of Mohamed Morsi, who was a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
From its side, Egypt has repeatedly condemned Ankara’s support for the terrorist-designated Muslim Brotherhood.
Tensions have escalated over Ankara’s military intervention in war-torn Libya, its violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, and its search for gas in the eastern Mediterranean, in violation of the territorial waters of Greece and Cyprus, two close allies of Cairo.
Addressing a virtual meeting of Arab foreign ministers organised by the Arab League in late-2020, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stressed the necessity of adopting a “unified and firm Arab policy” against Turkey’s “destructive practices” in Libya, Syria, and Iraq.
Conflict further heightened after Egypt and Greece signed a maritime demarcation deal last August establishing an exclusive economic zone between the two countries, sparking an angry response from Turkey, who at the time claimed the area falls in the borders of Turkey’s continental shelf.
Also, in August, the Egyptian foreign ministry objected to a seismic survey that had been planned by Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, saying it overlaps with Egypt’s exclusive economic zone and represents a “violation and attack on sovereign rights.”
The Turkish planned survey has also stirred a dispute with Greece and Cyprus over drilling rights, with Athens stressing it will do “whatever is necessary” to defend its sovereign rights.