Relations with Egypt would change the equation in the Eastern Mediterranean

Relations with Egypt would change the equation in the Eastern Mediterranean

By Elif İlhamoğlu

If Guinea is included, the wider Eurasian geography has witnessed profound changes in the recent days, from the Taliban government in Afghanistan over Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement to the coup in the West African country. United World International has spoken with Ret. Lieut. Gen. İsmail Hakkı Pekin about these developments and Turkey’s position.

Turkey should play a role concerning the Afghan civil society

In Afghanistan, the Taliban have announced to have established control over the whole country and proclaimed a provisional government. What expects Afghanistan in the coming process? How should Turkey, which has decided to withdraw its soldiers, continue its relations with that country?

What awaits Afghanistan first is the process of recognition. Will the Taliban government be recognized, or will it not? How and what kind of relations will the country establish with institutions like United Nations? Second topic is the issue of security. The Taliban controls certain regions, but there are also places which it does not control, where the danger of clashes exist. Thirdly, and most importantly, there is the matter of economy. They have to set the economy on path. They have proclaimed a government, but they also need to reestablish the state institutions. They have to reestablish the bureaucracy, to organize the military and the armed forces, the police. They have a lot work to do. Hunger, illnesses, and the provision of medicine and health services…All this needs to be dealt with.    

It is very important that Turkey continues the contact there. Turkey is not like other countries. China has strong economic capacity, Russia has its armed forces, Pakistan is very close to them and Iran is their neighbor. Actually, Turkey is the third force there. How can we establish contact and communication? Turkey will play a role in the maintenance and management of the Kabul International airport. This can be field to establish communication upon. Turkey needs to work with civil technicians on matters like management and security of the airport. The airport needs to be opened as soon as possible, because it is the way how important and needed aid from abroad will reach the country. If aid does not arrive, hunger and illness may appear in Afghanistan. If Turkey manages to take a leadership in matters of civil society, this will be very valuable for Afghanistan. Military matters are a topic for later. Recognition of the government is a totally different matter, which will need some time.

Cooperation with Egypt will foil Greece’s plans

Turkish and Egyptian delegations met in Ankara for the second round of the exploratory talks. Do you expect these meetings to produce any result? How would the two country’s reestablished relation reflect on the region and the Eastern Mediterranean?

The start of these relations and talks is very important. Both countries have dealt with mutual problems in these talks. As you, the first meeting has taken place in May. For us, Egypt is both, a Muslim country as well as a country of the Mediterranean. The fact that Turkey was left out of the equation and that the East Mediterranean Gas Forum was founded without including Turkey has affected Ankara negatively. For Turkey, in order to not left out on these matters, relations with Egypt are very important. The Egyptian side meanwhile has demands concerning the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkish-Egyptian relations are very important us in terms of the reorganization and delimitation of the Economic Exclusive Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean. If Turkey achieves to pull Egypt on its side, than it can foil Greek and European plans in the Eastern Mediterranean. Of course, time will tell whether this works out, but right now, the talks are proceeding positively, although a sudden and immediate improvement should not be expected.

Talks will continue until mutual obstacles are cleared. I expect the mutual sending of ambassadors to be the first topic. One the ambassadors are sent to the other side, the rest will follow. The development and deepening of Turkish-Egyptian relations will change all plans in the Eastern Mediterranean, which are carried out using Greece.

French coup in Guinea

How do you evaluate the coup in Guinea against the democratically elected President Alpha Condé? Condé last international visit was to Turkey.

In my judgment, it was France that organized the coup. The whole world sees that. Guinea is an important country in West Africa. The fact that Guinea was developing good relations with Turkey, China and Russia did not fit well into French interests. The coup is an event that France has set in motion, has provided the ground, in order to prevent that Paris looses control over the country. As you know, Guinea and Turkey have signed various agreements on defense and other fields. This is coup organized by France to stop Africa from moving towards Turkey, Russia and China and to cut off these countries’ influence on the continent.

Ismail Hakkı Pekin
Retired Lt. Gen. Ismail Hakkı Pekin is the former Head of Turkey’s General Staff Intelligence Agency between 2007-2011. He was born in 1951 in Iznik. He is married and is the father of two children.

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March 2023