Egypt and Turkey in a war of words at UN General Assembly
President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan - AFP/Don Emmert

CAIRO: Egypt condemned Thursday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speech at the general debate of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Badr Abdel Atty said in a statement Thursday that the Turkish President’s speech “represents the disregard and clampdown on the will of the Egyptian people as embodied on June 30.”

Speaking to the world delegates, Erdoğan said, “Those who are objecting to the murders in Iraq and Syria and the murder of democracy in Egypt are subjected to certain unfair and groundless accusations and are most immediately accused of supporting terrorism.”

“The elected president of Egypt was overthrown by a coup in Egypt and thousands of people who wanted to defend their choice were killed, but the United Nations and the democratic countries have done nothing but watch these events and the person (Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi) who conducted the coup is legitimatized,” the Turkish president added.

“If we are talking about democracy than we should respect the choice of the people at the ballot box; if on the other hand we are going to defend the people who came to power through coups, then I ask why we even exist as the United Nations,” he continued.

The Egyptian statement replied, “There is no doubt that such lies and slurs are not new coming from the Turkish president, who is keen to incite riots and divide the Middle East through his support of terrorist groups and organizations by political and financial means, or sheltering them to harm the interests of the region’s peoples for his own personal aspirations and illusions of the past.”

Following the latest Erdoğan remarks, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry Thursday cancelled an expected meeting between both countries called for by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Atty said.

Although the Egyptian side announced Tuesday that the invitation of holding the meeting came from Turkey, Turkish presidential media advisor Lutfullah Goktas denied this Wednesday, saying, “We did not ask for holding a meeting with the Egyptian delegate in New York and we have no intention for that ever,” Turkish news agency Anadolu reported.

Relations between both sides have become strained following the July 2013 ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.

In response to Erdoğan describing Morsi’s ouster as a “coup,” Egypt on Nov. 23, 2013 downgraded bilateral diplomatic relations with Turkey when it declared Turkish ambassador Hussein Botsali a persona non grata.

Relations soured further when Turkey hosted members of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy in Istanbul for a conference in spring 2014. Egypt declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization on Dec. 25, 2013.

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