Egypt, Turkey eye strategic relations

07:50, July 22, 2010      

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul confirmed on Wednesday the relations between the two countries are growing steadily at the economic, trade or political levels.

Egypt's presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad underlined the strength of relations between the two countries, denying press reports which said Cairo and Ankara are vying for a regional leading role.

The two leaders have agreed to launch strategic relations between Cairo and Ankara "under the chairmanship" of the prime ministers of the two countries, he added.

The two sides also agreed to increase the volume of trade, which is currently estimated at around 2 billion U.S. dollars, to 5 billion U.S. dollars by 2012, in addition to their commitment to establishing a Turkish industrial zone in 6th of October City, some 30 km west of downtown Cairo.

The summit serves as an important indicator that Turkey has been striving to improve and strengthen ties with Egypt and the whole Arab world at all levels.

There is a new Turkish tendency to stretch towards the south and to build strategic relations with the Arab and Islamic world, analysts said.

Said El-Lawendy, director of the international relations department at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, stressed in an interview with Xinhua the importance of Turkish-Egyptian and Turkish-Arab coordination.

He denied there is any kind of competition between Ankara and Cairo or any other Arab country over regional role.

"In the light of impediment to the progress of procedures adopted by Turkey to win the membership of the European Union, there is another alternative of stretching towards the south (Arab countries)," he said.

"Some people imagine that Europe will resort to Turkey to be its port to south Mediterranean countries. So, it is a kind of Turkish political intelligence to resort to this strategic dimension whatever justifications are," he said.

"There is no doubt that Turkey has become an important figure in the Middle East in particular, " he added.

Hamdi Abdel-Azim, a professor of economy and former dean of Cairo-based Sadat Academy for Management Sciences, said in a statement to Xinhua that the Egyptian-Turkish economic relations have witnessed a major boom in recent years.

The volume of trade and investments between the two countries has doubled due to many agreements signed by the two sides during the past five years, he said.

He pointed out that in 2006 Cairo allocated two million square meters to set a Turkish industrial zone with the aim of increasing the volume of investments between the two countries.

The new industrial zone will comprise 400 factories which can provide 22,000 job opportunities for Egyptians, he added, noting that the exports of the new zone are expected to hit 2 billion U.S. dollars annually.

Source: Xinhua


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