CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt rebuked Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday after he criticised European leaders for attending a summit hosted by Cairo days after nine men were executed.
Erdogan and his foreign minister accused European Union leaders of hypocrisy for telling Turkey reinstating the death penalty would end hopes of joining the bloc yet attending a summit hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“Turkish President Erdogan once again speaks to us about Egypt and its political leadership, clearly showing hatred and furthermore expressing his continued embrace of the terrorist Brotherhood group,” Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement.
Relations between Ankara and Cairo have been strained since the Egyptian military, then led by Sisi, ousted President Mohamed Mursi of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.
Hafez cited rights accusations against Turkey, including the existence of 70,000 political prisoners, jailing of 175 journalists and firing of 130,000 government employees.
“This narrative illustrates the lack of credibility of what the Turkish president is promoting,” he said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had on Tuesday chided EU leaders for being with Sisi days after “these young saplings were martyred” for killing Egypt’s chief prosecutor in 2015. [L5N20L4G6]
Cairo blamed the Mulsim Brotherhood and Gaza-based Hamas militants for the operation. Both groups denied that.
Sisi defended the death penalty on Monday at the Arab-EU summit in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, saying the two regions had “different cultures”.
Turkey aspires to join the EU but its accession negotiations, launched in 2005, are at a standstill amid concerns over human rights and the rule of law.
Egypt says the Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement, is a terrorist organisation. Most of its senior members have been arrested, driven underground or into exile.
The movement has close ties with Turkey’s ruling AK Party and many of its members have fled there since its activities were banned in Egypt. It says it is a peaceful organisation.
Rights groups said the executions in Egypt were carried out after unfair trials.
(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)