Egypt massacre no longer an internal affair, Gül says

Egypt massacre no longer an internal affair, Gül says

Turkey’s ambassador to Egypt, Hüseyin Avni Botsalı, speaks to reporters at İstanbul Atatürk Airport before flying to Ankara on Friday. (Photo: Cihan)

August 16, 2013, Friday/ 17:18:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkish President Abdullah Gül has stated that the bloody military crackdown on supporters of deposed Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi has gone beyond the internal affairs of Egypt, rejecting Egyptian accusations of Turkish interference in the country's domestic affairs.

“Turkey's warnings should be seen as reflecting a friend's warnings that emanate from feelings of sorrow and shock with a desire to help, not interference in another country's domestic affairs,” Gül said at the third summit meeting of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States in Azerbaijan's Qebele city.

Last Wednesday was the bloodiest day in decades in the Arab world's most populous nation. At least 638 people were killed, including 43 police officers, and nearly 4,000 were wounded, the Health Ministry said, in clashes that spread beyond Cairo to towns and cities around the country.

Egyptian security forces backed by armored cars and bulldozers moved to clear two sit-in camps of Morsi's supporters in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square and Giza's Nahda Square, showering protesters with tear gas as the sound of gunfire rang out at both sites.

The move has not only sparked angry protests in provinces across the country, with deadly clashes being reported in several areas, but also received the harsh condemnation of Turkey.

Gül's response came after the Egyptian Foreign Ministry condemned the Turkish statements, saying they crossed the line and accusing Turkey of interference.

Turkey's strong criticism of the July 3 coup and this week's brutal crackdown on Morsi supporters has strained ties with the new Egyptian administration.

“Unfortunately, the death toll has started to become clear and is now approaching 600. This is unacceptable. The number of deaths remains this high only in wars. We strongly condemn these [incidents]. Even in wars, the loss of life is not at this rate. Using the military against the [Egyptian] nation cannot be accepted,” said Gül, calling on the international community to help the conflict-ridden Egypt to overcome the tumult.

Gül stated that it was of great importance to pull Egypt out of the current chaotic situation, saying everyone should help Egypt.

"Besides analyzing the case and expressing feelings, there is a third point to say, which is how the country should emerge from the incidents. In such an environment of chaos, there is a knocked-out-cold condition in Egypt. It's important to pull Egypt out of that position. In this respect, we and the international community should help the country," Gül said.

The Turkish president underlined that the main task belonged to the Egyptians. “If they [Egyptians] fail to read the situation in Egypt and don't protect their own country, it is hard to intervene from the outside. They need to pull Egypt out of it with common sense. Otherwise, the most significant country in the Middle East will get consumed by its people and its army,” added Gül.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a group of reporters that his position on Egypt is clear, adding that he supports democracy, and that democratic values in Egypt should be given back to the people.

Turkey, Egypt recall ambassadors

Turkey and Egypt recalled their ambassadors following Ankara's condemnation of the bloody crackdown by Egyptian security forces on supporters of ousted President Morsi. Turkey recalled its Ambassador to Egypt Huseyin Avni Botsalı for consultations.   

While Turkish leaders kept up their criticisms of Egypt, calling the violence there a "shame for Islam and the Arab world," Botsali, who was summoned by Egypt's Foreign Ministry recently over the Turkish criticisms, arrived in Turkey on Friday for consultations. It was not clear when the ambassador would return to his post.

"It is hoped and wished that this suffering will not be repeated again. Egypt should immediately return to its democratic process, civilian administration and start recovering. This is what Turkey wishes,” said Botsalı, who replied to reporters' questions on his arrival at Istanbul's International Ataturk Airport.

Botsalı also urged Turkish citizens in Egypt to avoid making intercity travels, adding that Turkish citizens should not leave their homes and shops during the critical times.

Botsalı had already been reappointed to Sarajevo in January this year and his term in Cairo officially ended on June 30. The Turkish Foreign Ministry, however, asked the ambassador to stay in the country for a while longer due to the unrest.

Botsalı has been serving as the ambassador in Cairo for three-and-a-half years. His family has already left the country.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry has warned its nationals who are based in Egypt or set to travel to the country to avoid traveling on roads in the country.

Meanwhile, in remarks to the Turkish press before leaving to Cairo, the Egyptian ambassador in Ankara has stated that Turkish officials did not share their opinions with the current Egyptian administration on how the crisis in Egypt could be solved.

While emphasizing that Egypt has discussed the current political situation with many countries, Salaheldin stated that “Ankara did not share any plans with us [Egypt]. We learnt Turkey's opinion from newspapers.”

Egypt starts implementing accreditation for Turkish journalists

In the meantime, Egyptian authorities have started to implement a new procedure for Turkish journalists since Aug. 15. From that date, Turkish journalists should get accreditation and permission from Egyptian authorities, including the Intelligence Service, Interior Ministry and Military Intelligence Service, to enter Egypt to cover the incidents.

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