Cairo, Egypt – Turkey and Egypt could negotiate and sign a maritime demarcation deal in the eastern Mediterranean if their ties, which have been strained, allow for such a move, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Ties between them have been frosty since Egypt’s army ousted President Mohammed Mursi, an ally of Turkey, in 2013. They have also been at odds over maritime jurisdiction and offshore resources, as well as differences in Libya, where they backed opposing sides in the civil war.

In February 2021, Egypt announced the start of a bid round for oil and natural gas exploration and exploitation in 24 blocks, including some in the Mediterranean.

Cavusoglu told a news conference that Egypt’s exploration bids had respected Turkey’s continental shelf in the region and Turkey viewed this positively.

“As the two countries with the longest coastlines in the eastern Mediterranean, if our ties and the conditions allow it, we can also negotiate a maritime demarcation deal with Egypt and sign it amongst ourselves,” Cavusoglu said.

Turkey signed a similar agreement with Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) in 2019, prompting an angry response from Greece, which rejected the accord as illegal.

Greece and Turkey have been at odds over the extent of their continental shelves and rights to offshore hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean for decades. A similar deal between Greece and Egypt in August 2020 infuriated Turkey, prompting an angry response from Turkey, which rejected the accord as illegal.

After long standing tensions, Turkey and Egypt have recently lowered the temperature of their public comments. However, Turkish officials have said there are still no political talks between the two sides, and that any contacts are solely for intelligence reasons.

Turkey supported Mursi’s short-lived Egyptian government, and many Egyptian political opponents have fled to Turkey since their activities were banned in Egypt.