Ankara's Morsi comments inflame Egypt-Turkey tension

Cairo slams statements made amid anger over Turkey’s claims in Mediterranean and interference in Libya

A handout photograph taken and relased by the Turkish Defence Ministery on July 9,2019 shows a Turkish Navy warship patroling next to Turkey's drilling ship "Fatih" dispatched towards the eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus. - Turkey will "increase" its activities off Cyprus after the EU approved measures to punish Ankara for drilling operations in the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish foreign minister said on July 16, 2019. (Photo by DEFENCE MINISTERY PRESS SERVICE / TURKISH DEFENCE MINISTRY / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / TURKISH DEFENCE MINISTRY" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Egypt has slammed “preposterous” comments by the Turkish foreign minister about events surrounding the removal in 2013 of president Mohammed Morsi, saying they ran contrary to Turkey’s claim of seeking better relations with Cairo.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said Mevlut Cavusoglu’s comments to CNN amounted to “preposterous claims meant to serve ideological objectives”.

Mr Hafez said Egypt completely rejected the “negative” approach adopted by Ankara in relation to the June 2013 removal of Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, by the military, then led by current President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, after only one year.

“Continuing to talk about Egypt in this negative tone and with so much contradiction confirms the lack of credibility in regard to any claim about striving to create a suitable climate for relations based on respect and commitment to the rules of international legitimacy,” he said.

Relations between Egypt and Turkey have deteriorated since Morsi’s removal, with Cairo accusing Ankara of supporting radical groups in the region and meddling in domestic affairs of Arab nations.

At present, relations are tense over Turkey’s military intervention in Libya, Egypt’s western neighbour, where Cairo and Ankara support rival sides in its continuing conflict.

Tension has been heightened by Turkey’s attempts to muscle in on Egypt’s strategic partnership with Cyprus and Greece, both at odds with Ankara, to develop natural gasfields in the eastern Mediterranean.

Egypt and Greece last month signed an agreement defining their exclusive economic zones, furthering their ambition to tap into into the gas reserves along with Cyprus and Israel and further isolating Turkey.

Ankara's tension with Greece has risen in recent months over their maritime borders in the Aegean Sea and the gasfields.

In December, a maritime demarcation agreement between Ankara and Libya’s in Tripoli was denounced as illegal by Cairo and Athens.

The accord significantly expanded Turkey’s continental shelf, infringing on the ambitious energy plans by Greece and its allies.

Turkey has explored for gas off the shores of Cyprus, of which it has occupied a third since 1974 when it invaded after a short-lived, Greek-inspired coup.

The EU responded to Turkey’s drilling in waters off Cyprus, a member of the bloc, by imposing sanctions.

The bloc is divided over whether more effective punitive actions against Turkey should be introduced.

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