Turkey blames Egypt for halting normalization process over Libya energy deal
The reason for the slow pace of reconciliation talks with Egypt is not Turkey, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, blaming the North African country for halting the process over Libya energy deal.
“We are sincere in normalizing relations, but it takes two to tango,” he told reporters in capital Ankara on Wednesday, Karar newspaper reported.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry on Saturday said Cairo halted dialogue with Ankara because Turkey did not change its policies over Libya. The talks that began last year have “stopped after two rounds, because there was no change in Turkey’s practices in Libya,” Shukry said in an interview with Al-Arabiya, The Libya Update news website said.
Last month, Turkey and Libya’s Tripoli government led by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah signed a series of preliminary economic agreements that included potential energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, a move that immediately slammed by Egypt and Greece whom are also collaborating on gas exploration in the region. The agreement followed a 2019 maritime demarcation accord that Turkey and Tripoli-based GNA government (Government of National Accord) signed to establish an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), creating a sea corridor between the two countries which cuts through a zone claimed by Athens and Cairo.
The hydrocarbon deal signed by Turkey and Libya was also in Egypt’s interest, Cavusoglu said.
“Without Turkey, Libya would be like Syria today. There would be no city called Tripoli. Our existence is actually the guarantee of peace and stability,” he said.
Libya which is embroiled in a chaos following a 2011 uprising that ended the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi, is one of the main disputed issues between Turkey and Egypt. Since the NATO-backed outbreak, Libya has run by two rival administrations, one based in the capital Tripoli and the other in Tobruk.
Turkey supports the government in Tripoli, while Egypt backs the eastern forces led by General Khalifa Haftar.
The relations between Ankara and Cairo were deeply fractured after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in a 2013 military coup and started a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has forged closed ties. Turkey frequently denounced Sisi as a dictator and became a safe haven for the exiled Brotherhood members who were designated as “terrorists” by the Cairo administration. Both countries that withdrew their respective ambassadors in 2013, last year resumed diplomatic contacts, holding two rounds of exploratory talks.