Istanbul, Asharq Al-Awsat—Turkey has called for the immediate release of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, a step that the new government in Cairo has condemned as “blatant interference” in Egypt’s domestic affairs.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he did not recognize Egypt’s new leaders, insisting that Islamist Mohamed Mursi remains the country’s only legitimate president.
“Currently, my president in Egypt is Mursi because he was elected by the people,” Erdoğan said in an interview with a Turkish newspaper earlier this week.
While Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu emphasized yesterday, “We still view Mursi as holding his post [as president].”
Turkey’s Akşam newspaper reported that Erdoğan had rejected a request for a meeting by Egypt’s new vice president, Mohamed El-Baradei.
A Turkish official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that Egypt’s ambassador to Turkey had conveyed a message from interim president Adly Mansour to Turkish president Abdullah Gul attempting to reassure him about the transitional roadmap that has been put in place in Egypt.
However the Turkish president reportedly expressed resentment over the way Gen Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi dealt with “an elected president and other leaders who gained their legitimacy from the Egyptian people,” condemning the arrest of Mursi and senior Muslim Brotherhood figures.
Gul called on the new Egyptian leadership to release the Muslim Brotherhood figures that have been arrested, the official told Asharq Al-Awsat.
While Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, quoted an unnamed diplomatic source as saying: “You cannot announce elections when the leaders of the country’s strongest party are behind bars, and all of its assets have been frozen. The roadmap should be drafted with the inclusion of all parties, including Mursi and his party.”
“If this will be realized, this will of course be done by the Egyptian people and the regime. We are not going to cut our contacts but we’ll keep telling them what we have been saying throughout the course of the coup,” the source added.
On the Egyptian side, Ahmed El-Moslimany, media adviser to Egypt’s interim president, said: “I consider the Turkish statements to be inappropriate and interference in Egyptian domestic affairs.”
“I clearly say to Ankara, it should respect Egyptian sovereignty and the will of the Egyptian people. Egypt did not interfere in what happened in Taksim Square,” El-Moslimany added.
Ties between Cairo and Ankara have deteriorated following Mursi’s ouster earlier this month. Turkish prime minister Erdoğan, who heads an Islamist-led government, was reportedly appalled by the Egyptian military’s ouster of a democratically-elected president. In the immediate wake of Mursi’s ouster, Turkish Minister for European Affairs Egemen Bagis called for the UN Security Council to “take action” in Egypt. Ankara has lately taken a softer stance on the issue, while the Egyptian foreign ministry has urged Turkey to reconsider its position, stressing Egypt’s hope of preserving the “historical relations” between the two countries.