Turkey announced that it will take more steps to normalize relations with Egypt, but denied appointing a new ambassador to Cairo.
“Ankara and Cairo are taking positive steps and ambassadors will be reciprocally appointed when the time is right,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters after a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.
The Minister denied recent reports that his country appointed an ambassador to Egypt, adding that a new Charge d'Affaires will be appointed to replace the current one whose mandate has expired.
The Turkish statements came months after Cairo and Ankara held "exploratory talks" to address bilateral relations and several regional issues, aiming to normalize ties between the two countries.
Former Assistant Foreign Minister Ambassador Ali Al Hefni told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday that there is a common will in Cairo and Ankara to address their problems, even if gradually.
“The progress of relations could have been faster than that if Ankara had the desire to deal more decisively with some issues that represent a priority for the Egyptian state,” he said.
Relations between Ankara and Cairo deteriorated in 2013 over the Turkish position on the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt and its support for the group that the Egyptian authorities have designated a terrorist organization.
While the two countries withdrew their ambassadors simultaneously, their embassies remained open and continued to work at the Chargé d'Affaires level over the past eight years.
Meanwhile, Turkish diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that it will take time to see relations between the countries back to normal.
“The normalization steps are progressing slowly,” the sources said, attributing the delay to the conditions set by Cairo for restoring relations with Ankara.
Although Al-Hefni had stressed that relations between the two countries still need some time before being completely repaired, due to unresolved issues, he confirmed that the steps taken until now were good.
The Turkish sources said that Ankara is working on the file of the Muslim Brotherhood, noting that it is not considered the main obstacle hampering the normalization of relations.
“It is one of the important files in which Cairo wants Ankara to show a clear position,” the sources said.
During the past months, Turkey took steps that Cairo described as "positive," after Ankara ordered Istanbul-based channels affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood to stop airing criticism and incitement against Egyptian authorities.