Turkey's president: Release Morsi to save Egypt

The coup that ousted Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi was a clear derailment of the democratic progress. In order to initiate dialogue and reconciliation in a dangerously divided Egypt, Mr. Morsi and other politicians who remain in detention should be released.

Manu Brabo/AP
A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi chants slogans against the Egyptian Army during a protest at Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque in Nasser City, Cairo, Aug. 12. Security officials said police would besiege the entrenched protest camps there within 24 hours. An Egyptian official also said a judge has ordered Mr. Morsi to be detained for 15 more days.

Egypt has always been an engine of progress in its region and beyond throughout history. Despite certain setbacks, modern Egypt has also made huge progress and had leadership in the Arab world.

When the Egyptian people staged the January 25 Revolution in 2011, we immediately joined the pride of the Egyptian nation in their quest for freedom, democracy, and honor. I was the first head of state to visit Egypt after the revolution. Since then, Turkey has spared no effort to help consolidate democracy and development in Egypt and embrace all segments of its people.

Today, Egypt is going through a delicate process that will define not only her own future but also the fates of young democracies emerging after the Arab Spring. For Turkey, the coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was a clear derailment of the democratic progress. Of course, this unfortunate situation could have been averted by calling for early elections.

The people of Egypt have almost been split into two rival poles, dangerously rallying against each other. This situation is worrisome and unsustainable. Already, scores of people have lost their lives during demonstrations on streets and in squares. What we need now in Egypt is not a people split into two camps rallying against each other, but a nation rallying around its democracy and development.

Therefore, I would like to call on all parties to the ongoing political crisis in Egypt to make tireless efforts and act in solidarity and dialogue so that democracy in the country can be put back on track. Egypt’s future lies in democracy whereby the free will of the Egyptian people prevails, constitutional legitimacy is upheld, and the fundamental rights and freedoms are guaranteed. That is why everyone must do their utmost to win the future of Egypt.

Under the current circumstances, Egypt faces a risk of further polarization. This constitutes an imminent threat to Egypt’s stability. At this juncture, it is vital to reinstate democracy without further delay through an inclusive transition process that is acceptable to all parties. In order to initiate dialogue and reconciliation, Mr. Morsi and other politicians who have been arrested or remain under detention should be released. All political groups should be allowed to take part in the forthcoming elections.

Turkey has always appreciated Egypt’s key role in the preservation of regional peace and stability. Thus, its internal peace and stability would heavily impact on the future of the Middle East and North Africa. A strong Egypt is definitely to the benefit of the region and the world. We cannot afford to see Egypt in turmoil, which would further deteriorate the already tense situation in the Middle East.

With this in mind, Turkey’s desire is to see a stable and prosperous Egypt. Turkey’s efforts and principled stance aim to bolster its relations with Egypt as a whole in light of our shared historical and cultural ties and to help the brotherly Egyptian people keep their country on the democratic path.

Abdullah Gul is the president of Turkey.

© 2013 Global Viewpoint Network/Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Hosted online by The Christian Science Monitor.

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