Erdoğan was welcomed by Egyptian prime ministers Essam Sharaf and cheered by thousands at Cairo airport. (Today's Zaman)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.on Monday called on Egyptians to adopt a secular constitution, noting that secularism does not mean renouncing religion. A secular state respects all religions, Erdogan said in an interview with the private satellite TV channel Dream before heading to Egypt for a two-day visit.
“Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt,” Erdogan said.
He stressed that people have the right to choose whether or not to be religious, adding that he is a Muslim prime minister for a secular state.
Erdoğan.said Egypt needs to meet some requirements for establishing a modern state, including better management of human resources, more attention to education, improved management of financial resources and eliminating corruption.
At the Arab League. (Today's Zaman)
The Turkish daily Hürriyet said that Erdoğan's remarks had sparked a renewed debate over the applicability of Turkey as a model for Egypt and other countries in the region. “Turkey is a model for the other countries [in the region],” Mohammed Badie, the general guide of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview Wednesday after meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“There are very emotional ties between Turkish and Egyptian people. These ties have been stressed during our meeting with Erdoğan. And we felt that these sentiments are mutual,” Badie said, adding that they are very proud of the Turkish presence and the way the Turkish economy is booming in the region.
Other factions in the group, however, criticized Erdoğan’s televised remarks, in which he called on Egyptians to adopt a secular constitution and said they should “not be wary of secularism.”
“We welcome Turkey and we welcome Erdoğan as a prominent leader, but we do not think he or his country alone should be leading the region or drawing up its future,” said Essam el-Erian, deputy leader of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, Reuters reported.
“Arab states do not need outside projects. This has to come from the new internal systems of the Arab countries, which after the revolutions … will be democratic ones,” said Erian, who was jailed under former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.
During his visit to Egypt, the first stop in an “Arab Spring” tour that is also set to include Tunisia and Libya, Erdoğan met with representatives of different political groups in Egypt, ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to liberal revolutionary youth in Tahrir Square. The Turkish prime minister also held separate meetings with the candidates who will run for the Egyptian presidency in November, including Arab nationalist Hamadein Sabbahi, former Muslim Brotherhood leader Abul Foutouh and former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.
On Tuesday Erdoğan also gave a speech for the Arab Ligue “Our Palestinian brothers should be able to have their own state. It's time to raise the Palestinian flag at the United Nations. Let's raise the Palestinian flag and let that flag be the symbol of peace and justice in the Middle East," he told a meeting of the 22-member Arab League. Erdoğan also said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a “matter for humanity” and added that the current status quo can no longer be maintained. He reiterated that relations with Israel will not be restored unless Israel apologizes for the 2010 raid on the aid convoy, pays compensation for families of the victims and lifts the blockade of Gaza.
Erdoğan, who also concluded agreements with the Egyptians that are meant to bring trade at a level of $ 5 billion in two years, went to Tunisia on Thursday. On Friday he is expected in Libya for the final leg of his tour.