Just because Turkey, Egypt agree on the East Med doesn’t mean they agree on everything - YASIN AKTAY

Just because Turkey, Egypt agree on the East Med doesn’t mean they agree on everything

The recent traffic between Turkey and Egypt indicates that the likelihood of their turning over a new leaf in relations is increasingly becoming a reality. Statements from Egyptian authorities, expressing that they will “respect the continental shelf declared by Turkey” in their East Mediterranean activities were welcomed by Ankara. In response, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın confirmed that meetings were held, heralding a new era in bilateral ties. Finally, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made statements confirming all these developments, signaling unity and fraternity between the Egyptian and Turkish people.

The fact that Turkey’s positive messages were initially not followed by the same level of messages from Egypt was interesting. As a matter of fact, the press published statements from the Egyptian foreign minister, almost stipulating conditions, as if Turkey was unilaterally requesting to restart relations.

As if that was not enough, certain lists were published in Egypt’s official or “semi-official” media, citing terms presented by Egypt in response to Turkey’s request to thaw ties. Needless to say, they are astounding and delirious demands.

Looking at the list you would think Turkey lost in war and is being presented with armistice conditions. The list includes demands that Egyptian opposition members in Turkey be arrested and handed over Egyptian authorities; that Turkey withdraw its troops in Libya, Syria and Iraq; harmful operations and discourses against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) be ceased; neo-Ottoman desires which perturb Arab countries be halted; and Erdoğan submits an apology to Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, among many others. What’s next!

Of course there is nothing to be taken seriously about such deliriums. However, they do reveal those who are concerned about a likely normalization between Turkey and Egypt, and the kind of reflex they are developing against it.

The Egyptian media aside, a short while later, common sense kicked in. However, the real mouthpiece of the discourse that the Egyptian media swiftly stopped using was revealed. Two days ago, Dubai-based Skynews and Arabia channels started to report with a sensational tone, with “breaking news” alerts, saying that the Egyptian news TV channels broadcasting in Turkey had been shuttered and all leading Egyptian opposition figures had been arrested in order to be turned over to Egyptian authorities. The aim of these hours-long broadcasts was to project an image that Turkey had backed down from the determined attitude it had been adopting so far, and that it virtually surrendered to the putschist Dubai empire. I joined the broadcasts on some TV channels that insistently cited these reports, and tried to explain that those who maintain these desires are doomed to be utterly disappointed.

They are completely fabricated reports, and do not reflect anything other than their own lowly hopes regarding Turkey. Human beings have no value in their own country; they want the same worthlessness for Turkey.

It seems that if there were a despotic, oppressive criminal administration against human rights in Turkey like their own, this would relieve them, and the pressure for them to be a better administration would be alleviated. The commotion caused by Turkey is such a strange disturbance. Hence, they are more concerned than even Europeans in the slightest humanitarian event, and as a result, they hope to find the opportunity to allege that Turkey’s claims of democracy and human rights are futile and thus console themselves.

Yet, they should know that Turkey repatriating an individual to any country where the death penalty exists, or where there is no transparent judiciary, or torture and arbitrary arrests are out of the ordinary, is absolutely out of the question. This is against the international human rights and refugees law to which Turkey is also subject. But what is more interesting is that in the said communications, Egyptian authorities have not made - and cannot make - any such demand from Turkey. Furthermore, the current normalization between Turkey and Egypt, or their mending of ties at a certain level does not require them to see eye to eye on every matter. There will and may be disputes regarding many issues. Which country does Turkey agree with on every matter simply because they have good relations? The U.S.? Iran? Israel or Russia?

Besides, the request to mend ties at a “certain level” is not coming from Turkey alone but is mutual. Also, there is benefit in reiterating that what is in question is a deal that will provide a greater advantage to Egypt in the East Mediterranean. Just as no country needs to change its regime for such a deal, they do not need to concur on any other subject either.

Egypt’s deal with Greece is costing Egypt a loss of at least 20,000 square kilometers. This is a major loss, and if this is caused by a lack of communication or a dispute with Turkey, Ankara is offering CAiro a way out.

Egypt has a greater need for such a deal, not Turkey. Every state, as well as Israel, is seeing that no deal has the chance to work without Turkey since it stepped onto the stage.

Moreover, Turkey’s economy is not in the dumps as some Arab media outlets claim. On the contrary, it continues to be one of the world’s rising economies, and it is not internationally isolated. Both economic regression and international isolation are in fact the problems of countries that are the sources of these reports.

Despite this, as Turkey is directed by a political mind, it is considered that disputes regarding certain differences can be set aside. Nobody should expect Turkey to make concessions on its policies concerning human rights and other just because it is offering Egypt - and actually all the sides in the East Mediterranean - the foundation and opportunity for a consensus in the region.


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