Egypt halts talks with Turkey after Libya energy exploration deal
Egypt has halted any dialogue with Turkey over Turkish "practices" in Libya, foreign minister Sameh Shourky said in an interview with Saudi Al-Arabiya TV over the weekend ahead of the Arab League summit in Algeria today.
"The two deputies of foreign ministers held meetings earlier last year paved the way for expressing [Egypt’s] concerns about the regional situation. But there were no changes in terms of Turkey's practices in Libya," Shoukry told Al-Arabiya.
Turkey has not yet responded to the minister's comments.
The crisis in Libya, which borders Egypt to the west, strained ties between the two countries after Turkey intervened militarily into the conflict to back the outgoing Government of National Unity (GNU) headed by Abdel-Hamid Dbeibah.
The tension further escalated in October after the Tripoli-based GNU government signed several preliminary agreements with Turkey on exploration in potentially gas-rich zones of the Mediterranean Sea, angering Egypt and Greece who both dispute control over the areas in question.
The split between the two countries dates back to 2013 when the then-defence minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi overthrew late president Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president, who had the support of the government of Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president and then prime minister.
Since then, Turkey has harboured thousands of Egyptian dissidents including Muslim Brotherhood members; some of them work for TV channels based in Turkey that target Egyptian audiences. The TV channels mostly criticise the Egyptian regime.
The Brotherhood has been legally designated a terrorist group in Egypt since 2014.
Turkey and Egypt briefly thawed relations earlier this year, with Ankara moving to tone down criticism of Sisi's government.
According to the Egyptian top diplomat, the current situation violated the United Nations-brokered Skhirat agreement – which defines the authority and duration of Libya’s interim government.
“There is another government that cannot commence its responsibilities,” he explained.
Libya has been undergoing a state of chaos since the 2011 ouster and killing of president Muammar Gaddafi in an Arab Spring era uprising.