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Turkey and Egypt appoint ambassadors for first time in decade

New envoys to Cairo and Ankara named, in latest upgrade of diplomatic relations since fallout in 2013
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the sidelines of the World Cup opening ceremony in Doha (Reuters)

Egypt and Turkey have appointed ambassadors to each others' capital cities for the first time in ten years, as the two governments continue to upgrade diplomatic relations. 

Amr Elhamamy will become Egypt's ambassador in Ankara while Salih Mutlu Sen will be appointed as Turkey's ambassador in Cairo, the Egyptian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Relations between Ankara and Cairo have been severely strained since 2013. 

Turkey refused to recognise Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as Egypt's legitimate leader following a 2013 military coup that ousted his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president.

In February 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not meet Sisi until Egypt’s political prisoners had been released. Human rights groups say Egypt holds 65,000 political prisoners.

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“I will never meet with such a person. First of all, he needs to release all prisoners with a general amnesty. As long as he does not release those people, we cannot meet with Sisi,” the Turkish president said at the time.

But consultations between the two countries' senior foreign ministry officials kicked off two years ago.

A Turkish delegation visited Egypt in May 2021 to discuss "normalisation", amid a push by Turkey to ease tensions with Egypt, the UAE, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

New beginning

In November, Sisi and Erdogan shook hands in Qatar, in what the Egyptian presidency heralded as a new beginning in their ties.

Turkish officials told Middle East Eye at the time that they believed that what Cairo had really been after was a handshake with Erdogan, which would signal complete acknowledgement of Sisi as the legitimate president of Egypt. 

Sisi also held a phone call with Erdogan in February, offering condolences to victims of the deadly earthquake which struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria.  

Despite steps towards reconciliation, the two countries are still at odds over a set of issues: from competing interests in Libya to maritime borders in the gas-rich Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the presence of members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey - a group Cairo has designated as a terrorist organisation.

But during the years of diplomatic tensions, business dealings between the two countries never stopped. In 2022, Turkey was the largest importer of Egyptian products, totalling $4bn.

Earlier this year, the Egyptian government said that Turkish companies had committed to $500m in new investments in Egypt.

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