President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has indicated that there is no possibility of a thaw in Turkey’s relations with Egypt over Gaza, saying any rapprochement with the coup administration would contradict Turkey’s democratic struggle, Al Jazeera Turk reported.
In an interview to Al Jazeera released on Al Jazeera Turk’s website on Saturday, Erdoğan mentioned Turkey and Qatar’s cooperation on a variety of issues in the Middle East, including Gaza. He said Turkey and Qatar were allies during Gaza cease-fire talks due to their ties with Hamas, how they see eye-to-eye in ideas for peace, freedom and justice in the region and stand with oppressed people in the Gaza conflict.
When asked why Turkey does not take a step towards better relations with Egypt, which will play a key role in any future solution in the Gaza conflict, Erdoğan underlined “Turkey’s struggle for democracy.” He said, as a person who believes in democracy, it is not possible for him to accept a military coup that took place only a year after former President Mohammed Morsi was democratically elected to power.
“Now, Egypt can solve this problem [conflict in Gaza], if it is able to do so. We would welcome this. Playing a very different role [being in contact with Egypt] in such a process may take place in the background. However, I do not want to contradict my personal values and principles,” he was reported as saying by Al Jazeera.
In earlier remarks in July, Erdoğan criticized Egypt’s failed cease-fire proposal between Hamas and Israel, saying it was “wrong” and questioned Egypt’s right to be involved in cease-fire efforts. “Hamas is a party [to the conflict], what does Egypt have to do with it?” he had asked, adding that “Egypt itself is an oppressor.”
During the interview, Erdoğan also disagreed with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s position as president and receiving more than 95 percent of votes, saying, “No election took place in Egypt.” “It was a controlled election,” he reportedly said, adding that the president who came to power by democratic election, Morsi, has been imprisoned.
Erdoğan recalled the violent incidents that took place after the coup in Egypt and continued: “How can we approve of such a coup? How can we say yes to this [government]?”
Ankara is one of the most vocal critics of the Egyptian administration, which came to power after the military toppled former President Morsi, a politician from the Muslim Brotherhood, last summer. Egypt, for its part, sees Hamas as a threat because it is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Erdoğan’s government worked closely with. Turkey’s refusal to accept his ousting prompted the new Egyptian leadership to cut ties with Turkey and expel the Turkish ambassador from Cairo. Ankara responded in kind, declaring Egypt’s ambassador to Turkey persona non grata.