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Turkey could reset relations with Egypt and Syria after elections: Erdogan

Erdogan also said Ankara prepared to extend role in Ukraine-Russian grain deal, and to help facilitate gas export to Europe
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers his messages to the journalists in G20 Summit's news conference in Bali, Indonesia, 16 November 2022 (Reuters)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said Turkey could open a new page with Egypt and Syria following the presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

Erdogan said there was no eternal antagonism in politics and that Ankara could renew ties with these countries when the time is appropriate.

“We may reevaluate the relations with the countries we have problems with,” he told the reporters who accompanied him to Indonesia for the G20 summit earlier this week. 

“We can reset the relations with them after the June elections.”

Domestic pressure is growing on Ankara to warm relations with Damascus. The Turkish opposition's calls for reconciliation between Turkey and Syria are increasing, as the public grows more and more hostile to the nearly four million Syrian refugees in the country.

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The Syrian government became an international pariah when it violently cracked down on protests in 2011, sparking sparked a civil war that is believed to have cost half a million lives.

Meanwhile, Ankara and Cairo have been seeking to mend relations that were fractured after Turkey refused to recognise 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.

Erdogan, however, still refuses to meet Sisi, which is a primary condition for Cairo to repair relations. 

Gas swap

The Turkish leader said on Thursday that Ankara could extend its role in the Ukraine-Russia grain deal, and satisfy Moscow’s request to send shipments to countries in need.

He said Turkey could process Russian grain into flour and export it to countries that are suffering from food crises, especially in Africa. 

Turkey and Russia are also working on a plan to establish a gas hub in western Turkey after the Nord Stream pipelines that pump gas to Europe were damaged in unexplained explosions. 

Erdogan said Turkey is in talks with some countries to import gas and later export it.

One person familiar with the issue said Turkey could get gas from Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia, and swap them with Turkish gas and other liquefied natural gas sources and sell them to Europe.

Erdogan said he would make an announcement on the issue once the negotiations are completed with a third country, which he did not reveal. 

French relations

The Turkish president also touched on relations with France, saying he has a cordial relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali.

“I told Macron that he was taking a jab at me in other venues, and reminded him that it was he who told me that our wives have better relations than us,” Erdogan said.

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“Macron in response said we get along well this time and have had good meetings. I told him that we should continue this way and shouldn’t allow any trouble in our relationship.” 

Erdogan said the most important topic of cooperation between Turkey and France was the joint production of the SAMP-T missile defence system, which has been delayed due to technical disagreements. The system is co-produced with Italy. 

“Macron during our meeting with the Italian prime minister [Giorgia Meloni] said that we should quickly resolve this issue,” he added. 

Erdogan also said he was impressed by Meloni’s outspoken way of communication in their first meeting.

“She has four topics in her mind to promote bilateral relations,” Erdogan said. “We can increase energy cooperation. Immigration is another one. And they offered to deepen defence industry cooperation as well as providing support within the European Union.” 

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