CAIRO (RFE / RL) – Armenia on Monday expressed firm support for the Egyptians’ position in the bitter conflicts with Turkey over the maritime borders of the eastern Mediterranean and the conflict in Libya.
On an official visit to Cairo, foreigner Zohrab Mnatsakanyan also accused Ankara of destabilizing these regions and neighboring regions, including the South Caucasus.
We are closely following developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Mnatsakanyan said after talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. We stand in solidarity with Greece and Cyprus for their inalienable rights to economic activities in the exclusive economic zone in accordance with international law.
I also want to underline our solidarity and support for Egypt in the same way, he said at a joint press conference held shortly before his separate meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. .
Mnatsakanyan went on to praise the Egyptians’ commitment to peace and stability in Libya, where Cairo and Ankara support warring factions. We highly commend your efforts in this regard, he told Shoukry.
Tensions between Turkey on one side and Greece, Cyprus and Egypt on the other have intensified in recent months over conflicting claims over the extent of their continental shelves in the eastern Mediterranean.
In early August, Egypt and Greece signed an agreement designating their exclusive economic zone in the region known to be rich in natural gas. The two countries had denounced as illegal a similar agreement signed earlier by Turkey and the Libyan government. For its part, the Turkish government has called the Greek-Egyptian agreement null and void before ordering more preparatory work for the potential exploration of hydrocarbons.
Armenia publicly sided with Greece and Cyprus later in August, starting a new war of words with its big neighbor and rival. Yerevan and Ankara began to exchange bitter accusations after heavy fighting broke out on July 12 on Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan, Turkey’s regional ally.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish leaders have accused Yerevan of week-long deadly hostilities and reaffirmed their support for Baku in unusually strong terms, raising the possibility of Turkish military intervention in the Karabakh conflict.
Mnatsakanyan expressed serious concern over the growing strength of the Turkish military and cited unconfirmed reports that Ankara is recruiting Islamist militants in Syria and sending them to Azerbaijan. These are exactly the movements that are undermining efforts for peace and stability in the region, he said.
In this context, the Armenian minister referred to the same sources of destabilization in the South Caucasus, the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. Any attempt to export instability and escalation to different regions as part of the power projection is deplorable, whether in North Africa or the South Caucasus, he said in another jibe. in Ankara.
Successive Turkish governments have refused to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan and to open the Turkish-Armenian border in solidarity with Azerbaijan. They subordinated the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations to a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku.
Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been strained since the 2013 overthrow of the former Islamist president of Arab nations, Mohamed Mursi. The latter was supported by the AK Party Erdogans, of Islamist origin, during his brief tenure. Many members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Mursis fled to Turkey after the coup.
Mnatsakanyan seemed satisfied with his very good discussion with the Egyptian foreign minister, saying it was not only about international security but also about ways to expand Armenian-Egyptian relations. We would like to take practical steps in this direction, he said.
The senior Armenian diplomat also said his country supports the Egyptians’ efforts to sign a free trade agreement with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union.
He further revealed that al-Sisi was planning to visit Armenia. But he gave no possible date for the trip.
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