Nervous Turkey Tries to Woo Egypt Away from Greek Influence

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this March 18, 2020 file photo, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ANKARA -- His influence seen slipping,Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he's anxious that Greece and Egypt are developing a closer relationship, especially over hunting for energy in waters between them that Turkey also covets.

“It saddens us to see the Egyptian people forced to side with the Greek people. It makes us sad to see that Egyptians are in solidarity with Greeks,” he told journalists after Friday prayers on May 7, said Kathimerini.

His words came after two days of talks between Egyptian and Turkish officials in Cairo where Turkey made a pitch to get Egypt more on its side, despite deals already made between Egypt and Greece over energy.

“The Egyptian people and the Turkish nation have a unity based on history,” he said, noting that more meetings will follow as he tries to reset relations after having said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, was a “putschist” and “tyrant,” as Turkey offered sanctuary to members of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that there was now a “positive atmosphere” with Egypt as Turkey has been trying to counter Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' moves to build international alliances, including Egypt.

“We always say that Egypt will also profit from cooperation over here. When the relations improve to that level, we will discuss them as well for sure,” he was quoted as saying by Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.

The European Union Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, paid a working visit to Ankara, during which she met with Cavusoglu, who called for more EU money to keep refugees and migrants contained under an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the bloc.

After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was humiliated in an earlier visit where Erdogan made her stand, there was no word on whether Johansson was offered a seat or not.