Turkey wants to establish 'a parliamentary friendship group' with Egypt

AFP , Tuesday 20 Apr 2021

Bulent Turan
File photo: Parliamentary leader of Erdogan's AKP party Bulent Turan. Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip's ruling party on Tuesday proposed establishing a parliamentary friendship group with Egypt, extending a new olive branch in Ankara's efforts to normalise ties with Cairo.

Turkey's relations with Egypt froze over with the 2013 ousting of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi, whom Erdogan had personally backed.

The two countries expelled each others' ambassadors and subsequently backed opposing sides in the conflict in Libya.

But Libya has taken its first steps in a post-war transition, and Turkey has spent the past few months mending fences with regional rivals, saying it has had its first diplomatic contacts with Egypt since 2013 last month.

"Today we will present a motion to the parliament speaker's office to establish a friendship group between the Turkish republic and Egypt," Bulent Turan, the parliamentary leader of Erdogan's AKP party, was quoted as saying by the Anadolu state news agency.

Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu heralded a "new era" in relations with Egypt, announcing a diplomatic delegation visit to Cairo next month.

In another element of Turkey's diplomatic push, members of Egypt's Istanbul-based opposition media revealed that Turkish officials had asked them to tone down criticism of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

After the Arab Spring, Istanbul became a capital of Arab media critical of their governments back home, especially for Egyptian media linked to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Moataz Matar, one of the most famous Istanbul-based media critics of Morsi, announced that he was going on "unlimited leave" earlier this month.

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