Turkish President Recep Tayyip has shown no signs of softening his attitude towards the Egyptian government, telling Al Jazeera Arabic in an interview published Friday that he “will not engage in normalisation regime”, until the crackdown on former president Mohamed Morsi and his associates ends.
Erdogan told Al Jazeera that his position as a democratically elected leader requires that he should not recognise President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s government, “A democracy does not recognise a coup”. However, Erdogan said that he has “no objection to low-level talks between the two countries, but I am totally opposed to normalisation at the high levels of the state”.
Speaking on the death sentences handed by Egyptian courts to Morsi and the former leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated government who were ousted by an Al-Sisi-led military in 2013, Erdogan said: “There are nearly 2,000 people sentenced to death in Egypt, and the West still say they oppose the death sentence, why then stay silent about Egypt?”
Though few have been hanged, hundreds have been sentenced to death in the turbulent years since the July 2013 regime change, primarily targeting supporters of the Brotherhood accused of responsibility for violence.
Erdogan’s AKP party were allies of Morsi’s governments, and following the ouster have been one of the largest critics of the Egyptian government, international relations have accordingly deteriorated. Egypt’s officials, including Al-Sisi, have frequently told Ankara to cease “interfering” in the country’s domestic affairs.
Erdogan also spoke on the Egyptian army’s policy of flooding the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, saying the “dangerous” policy threatens the lives of the Gazan people.
“There are no problems between our people and the people of Egypt, the Egyptian people are our brothers. The problem is between us and the ruling regime,” he said.
In April, the Turkish Foreign Ministry strongly condemned sentences handed out in the ‘Rabaa Operations Room’ case, in which 14 were sentenced to death and 37 to life imprisonment. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry also said the sentences were reached following legal proceedings that are “far from meeting international standards”. It added, in a statement, that the sentences “will not contribute to lasting social peace and stability in Egypt”.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry responded by expressing its condemnation of Turkey’s “unacceptable interference” in Egyptian judiciary affairs.