Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that it “saddened” him to see Egypt in solidarity with Greece, according to the Greek Reporter.
“You know our attitude towards the Egyptian people is very, very positive, that is, there is a historical relationship between the Egyptian people and the Turkish nation,” he told reporters.
“That is why we are in an effort to regain our historical union with the Egyptian people, not as hostile brothers, but as friends,” he continued. “It makes us sad to see that Egyptians are in solidarity with Greeks.”
On April 8, Greece and Egypt signed a program for bilateral military cooperation in 2021 following a meeting between delegations from the Hellenic National Defence General Staff and its Egyptian counterpart.
According to an announcement, the agreement covers a broad range of actions that will take place in both Greece and Egypt, focusing mainly on joint exercises and training activities involving all three branches of the armed forces.
Turkey is currently holding its first direct talks with Egypt in eight years. A Turkish delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal held two days of talks this week in Cairo that both sides described as “frank and in-depth”.
This round of negotiations was not designed to paper over all of the differences between Turkey and Egypt. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry explained the meetings as “necessary steps that may lead to normalization of relations between the two countries at the bilateral and regional context”.
Erdoğan promised that dialogue would continue, and said, “A new process (with Egypt) has started…We will expand, develop and continue this.”
The talks in Cairo came after Turkey told members of Egypt’s Istanbul-based opposition media to “tone down” criticism of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The request appeared to be a gesture of goodwill aimed at mending ties that were eroded further by the two countries backing opposing sides in the now-unwinding conflict in Libya.
Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been strained over a range of regional issues, including maritime borders and Ankara’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Last year, Turkey reacted strongly to the maritime zone agreement signed between Greece and Egypt, saying it violated the continental shelf of Turkey and Libya, and thereby was “null and void”.
Ankara and Cairo have backed opposite sides in the Libyan conflict, with Turkish military support, including Syrian mercenary fighters, proving crucial to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord seeing of an offensive by General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army last June.
Nonetheless, a ministerial-level meeting between Egypt and Turkey is under consideration, Hürriyet newspaper reported on Saturday.