Turkey, US aligned on strategy for Egypt's transition
Following his phone conversation with US President Barack Obama over the weekend, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his support for the US strategy of having a "transitional government" in Egypt to carry the country to elections. "A democratic transition should be ensured in the shortest possible time ... If this is achieved, I believe the people will definitely accept such an outcome," Erdogan told reporters yesterday before leaving for groundbreaking ceremony for a dam to be built jointly by Turkey and Syria over the Orontes River. Saying he had not changed his view that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should leave office, Erdogan emphasized that the groundwork should be laid be prepared for that outcome. "An administration of confidence that gives an opportunity for such a groundwork – and this could be an interim election administration – will ensure everything," he said. Speaking to his party's parliamentary group last week, Erdogan said Mubarak's pledge to step down in September was not enough, and that the embattled Egyptian president should go immediately. Stressing that Turkey has no intention of meddling with Egypt's internal affairs, Erdogan yesterday added, "We hope the Egyptian people's democratic desire for rights and freedoms will be met. This is very important for peace and prosperity in the region, since the results Egypt would get from this would have a very positive impact on the region." Stating that the upheaval in Egypt matters not only to its own people there but also to the whole region, Erdogan said, "Turkey only wants peace, stability and prosperity in this region. We also want this region to economically develop, as Turkey develops." Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday stressed that a reasonable transition period is needed in Egypt to allow a political scene to take shape and political actors to ready themselves for full-fledged multiparty elections. "Once this is done, elections can be scheduled for a reasonable date," he told reporters ahead of his talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. "If healthy elections are to be held, political parties and actors should be allowed to make preparations. If new political parties are to be formed, time should be allowed." He added, "Such a dynamic multiparty election has not been seen in Egypt of late. A reasonable amount of time needs to be allowed for that." Citing the phone conversation between Erdogan and Obama, Davutoglu also reaffirmed that Turkey and the US are on the same page concerning Egypt. "The good side is the views are 100 percent identical; the regional perspective, the worries, the concerns are also the same," he said.