By Asma Alsharif, Ali Abdelatty and Seda Sezer
Egypt said on Saturday it was expelling Turkey’s ambassador and accused Ankara of backing organisations bent on spreading instability – an apparent reference to the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi.
Turkey, which had forged close ties with Egypt under Mursi, responded by declaring the Egyptian ambassador, currently out of the country, persona non grata.
“We are saddened by this situation,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “But responsibility before history belongs to Egypt’s temporary administration which came to power under the extraordinary circumstances of the July 3 coup.”
Turkey has emerged as one of the fiercest international critics of Mursi’s removal, calling it an “unacceptable coup”. Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has been staging protests calling for his reinstatement, has close ties with Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party.
“(Ankara is) … attempting to influence public opinion against Egyptian interests, supported meetings of organisations that seek to create instability in the country,” Egyptian foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdelatty said, in explaining why the Turkish ambassador had been asked to leave.
In response to Egypt’s decision, Turkish President Abdullah Gul spoke live on state run TRT television, saying: “I hope our relations will again get back on track.”
Both countries will remain represented in each other’s capitals by embassies headed by a charge d’affaires, effectively a number two.
Both sides had recalled their ambassadors in August for consultation after Egyptian security forces stormed into pro-Mursi camps on August 14, killing hundreds.