Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited both Syria and Turkey on Monday, to convey a message of solidarity from Egypt to the two brotherly countries following the earthquake disaster that happened on 6 February, which left heavy losses in both countries.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad received Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Damascus, who said that the purpose of his visit to Syria is “humanitarian first and foremost to convey Egyptian solidarity to the leadership and people.”
The Egyptian minister conveyed a message from President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi affirming Egypt’s solidarity with Syria and its readiness to continue to support the Syrian people as they face the effects of the earthquake, according to a statement from the Syrian presidency.
Al-Assad thanked Egypt for its aid to the Syrian government’s efforts in providing relief to those affected by the earthquake. He stressed that Syria is keen on maintaining its relations with Egypt.
He pointed out that Syrian-Egyptian relations should always be viewed from a general perspective and within the natural and historical context of these relations.
“Working to improve relations between Arab countries on a bilateral basis is the basis for improving the Arab situation in general,” al-Assad said.
“Egypt did not treat the Syrians who settled there during the war on Syria as refugees, but rather embraced them by the Egyptian people in all regions, which confirms the ties between the two peoples and the originality of the Egyptian people,” the Syrian president said.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said, “The Syrian-Egyptian relationship is an essential pillar in the protection of Arab countries. Egypt will always be supportive of anything that can help Syria and will continue to advance anything that serves the interests of the Syrian people.
Shoukry pointed to the ties between the Syrian and Egyptian peoples. “Syrians residing in Egypt have shown a great ability to adapt to Egyptian society and have achieved great success in their work in various fields,” he said.
In a joint press conference with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad, Shoukry said he conveyed a message of “solidarity and compassion with the brotherly Syrian people from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, as well as our readiness to continue to provide whatever support we can to counter the effects of the earthquake.
Asked about the possibility of the resumption of bilateral relations between Egypt and Syria, Shoukry said, “The purpose of the visit is primarily humanitarian, to convey solidarity at the leadership level, the government level and the Egyptian people to the Syrian people.”
Sameh Shoukry, in the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011, said that Egypt provided 1,500 tons of aid to Syria after the earthquake, expressing his country’s readiness to provide all necessary support to Syrians.
“Our coordination with the Syrian government began in the early days of the earthquake,” Shoukry said.
Muqdad praised Egypt’s “great role” in confronting the catastrophic consequences of the 6 February earthquake that struck Syria.
“When the Foreign Minister of Egypt comes to Damascus, he comes to his house, his people and his country… The leadership of Egypt and its people have played a major role in facing the catastrophic consequences of the earthquake,” the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted the Syrian Foreign Minister.
Following his visit to Damascus, Shoukry arrived in Ankara. He confirmed that the aid provided by Egypt to Turkey is the least that can be done in the framework of Egypt’s keenness to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the earthquake, pointing out that there are directives to give priority to the passage of aid ships from the Suez Canal.
During a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the Turkish port of Mersin, where Egyptian aid arrived in Turkey, Shoukry added that the Egyptian government, people, and leadership suffered from this disaster that affected the friendly Turkish people, stressing that Egypt will do all it can to support the efforts to support the Turkish people.
Egypt will continue to support and facilitate aid destined for Turkey by giving it priority passage from the Suez Canal, as a result of the strong relationship between the Egyptian and Turkish peoples, he said.
During bilateral talks with his Turkish counterpart at Adana airport, Shoukry stressed that he was briefed on the priorities required by his brothers in Turkey concerning aid, noting that Egypt will work to provide what it can in the framework of efforts, whether through the Egyptian government, the Egyptian Red Crescent or civil society organizations, to confront this disaster and alleviate the suffering of the injured as much as possible, and provide them with means of subsistence.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu praised the role of Egypt and its supportive stance to Turkey in the earthquake disaster, saying: “We appreciate Egypt standing by us after the earthquake disaster, and we seek to open a new page of relations with Egypt.
Çavuşoğlu added that friendship and brotherhood are evident during difficult days and that we have received all the assistance from the Egyptian side. Egypt is an important country for the Middle East and the world and noted that recently there has been communication between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, describing the talks between the two sides as fruitful.
“There has been a chill in relations between the two countries, but Egypt is an important country for the Arab world, the Middle East, Palestine, and the world,” the Turkish foreign minister said.
He added that Turkey will put in place concrete steps to raise the level of relations between the two countries, stressing that the visit of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at this time has great significance, expressing his thanks and appreciation for this visit.