ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish authorities have asked three Istanbul-based Egyptian opposition TV channels to soften their critical political coverage of Egypt’s government, as Turkey seeks to repair frayed ties with Cairo, officials at one of the channels said Friday.
Ayman Nour, an exiled Egyptian opposition figure and head of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked al-Sharq television station, confirmed in televised comments that Turkish officials demanded that the channels tone down their rhetoric. He said they were not ordered to shut down or to stop airing programs.
“A dialogue has started between us and Turks in the framework of changing the rhetoric (of these channels),”Nour said.
An editor at al-Sharq told The Associated Press that Turkish officials made the request during a meeting in Istanbul on Thursday with managers from al-Sharq and two other channels, Mekamleen and Watan. The officials told the broadcast managers they could continue to make programs about Egypt but not against the Egyptian government, citing Turkey’s negotiations with Egypt, according to the editor.
The TV channels immediately stopped broadcasting some political programs, the editor said. He asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
There was no immediate comment from the Muslim Brotherhood group.
Egypt’s state minister for information, Ossama Heikal, welcomed the move, calling it in a statement a “good initiative from the Turkish side that establishes a favorable atmosphere to discuss issues of dispute between the two nations.”
Egypt and Turkey have been at loggerheads since the Egyptian military’s 2013 ouster of an Islamist president who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood group and enjoyed the support of Turkey.
Recently, top Turkish officials signaled a warming of ties with Egypt, a shift from their previous, sharply critical approach to the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.
Egyptian officials, however, said Turkey needed to take substantial steps toward “genuine” talks to mend ties. The steps include the departure of hundreds of Turkish forces and thousands of Syrian mercenaries brought to Libya by Turkey, as well as the handover of Islamists wanted by Egypt on terror-related charges, they have said.
The two nations backed opposing side in the conflict in Libya. Cairo, as well as Greece and some other European countries, were angered by Turkey’s maritime deal with an administration Libya in 2019, an agreement aimed at boosting Turkish maritime rights and influence in the eastern Mediterranean.
Egypt and Greece responded by signing a separate deal to delineate their maritime boundaries, a deal rejected by Ankara.
Samy Magdy reported from Cairo.