Turkey Asks Istanbul-based Egyptian Opposition to Tone Down Criticism, TV Network Owner Says

Egypt's information minister calls the move 'good initiative that creates an appropriate climate for discussing issues of dispute between the two sides,' as Erdogan seeks to improve strained ties with Sissi

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Ayman Nour at a rally at Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo in 2011.
Ayman Nour at a rally at Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo in 2011.Credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

Turkey has asked Egyptian opposition television channels operating on its territory to moderate criticism of Egypt's government, as Ankara seeks to improve strained ties with Cairo, the owner of one of the channels said on Friday.

Ayman Nour, a liberal opposition figure and former Egyptian presidential candidate, told Reuters Turkish officials told him they wanted the TV stations to practice "objectivity and not to attack or criticize people".

Turkey's Foreign Ministry did not comment on the reported request, which would mark a first concrete step by Ankara towards easing tensions with Cairo. Better relations between the two powers could help efforts to resolve conflict in Libya, and ease maritime disputes in the east Mediterranean.

Egypt's Information Minister Osama Heikal told Reuters he welcomed the move, calling it a "good initiative that creates an appropriate climate for discussing issues of dispute between the two sides".

Nour's Al-Sharq television is one of three prominent Egyptian opposition channels in Istanbul, including Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist-leaning stations, whose programmes have irritated the Cairo government.

Ties have been strained since Egypt's army toppled a Muslim Brotherhood president close to Ankara after protests in 2013.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party has its roots in Islamist politics, has not recognized Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. Sissi, the former army chief, took power in 2013 and was later elected president.

Many Egyptian opposition figures, including the Muslim Brotherhood which is outlawed in Egypt, took refuge in Turkey.

Last week President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had resumed contact with Egypt and expressed hopes that the process would continue "much more strongly".

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