Turkey's Erdoğan: 'Morsi is Egypt's president, not Sisi'

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that he still views deposed leader Mohamed Morsi as the Egyptian president, rather than current leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The Turkish leader, who has frequently spoken out about Egypt under Sisi, made the comments at a joint press conference with the chairman of the Bosnian Presidential Council, Mladen Ivanic, after a meeting with the council in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.

"I have consistently said at international platforms that I do not accept Sisi as the president. Today, I am also saying the same thing. To me, the president of Egypt is not Sisi, it is still Morsi," Erdoğan said in the press conference.

"It is not possible for us who believe in democracy to accept such a coup," he added, in reference to the ousting of Morsi in July 2013 after mass street protests formed against his rule despite him being Egypt's first-ever democratically elected leader.

Morsi was controversially handed a death sentence last week, after he was found guilty of orchestrating a mass prison break in 2011, when thousands of Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood supporters escaped from several prisons. His supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood movement have called the charge "farcical".

More than a hundred people were also sentenced to death over the incident. However, the sentences must first be approved by Egypt's top religious body, the grand mufti, before the sentences are carried out.

This week, Erdoğan condemned the lack of international outrage about the sentencing of the democratically-elected politician.

"The European Union, the West, have you not abolished the capital punishment? If you have, do you have any sanctions against those who implement it? What are you waiting for? Why are you still silent?" the Turkish president asked in a speech in Istanbul.

However, Sisi has faced criticism of his leadership from other notable political figures, hampering his hopes for heightened influence on the world stage, demonstrated by his lobbying for the creation of a joint Arab force in reaction to the Yemen conflict.

This week, the speaker of the German parliament, Norbert Lammert, revealed that he was to cancel a meeting with the Egyptian leader when Sisi visits Berlin next month because of the "systematic persecution of opposition groups, mass arrests, convictions to lengthy prison terms and an incredible number of death sentences".

Benjamin Decker, senior intelligence analyst at Tel Aviv-based geopolitical risk consultancy The Levantine Group, says that while Sisi has experienced some criticism on the international stage, he knows that Egypt is of strategic importance to key allies such as the United States and will therefore retain their support.

"In the short term, you could see a little bit of fallout in terms of his relations with Germany, for example, which is one of the biggest powers in the EU," he says. "At the same time, there has not been much from the American camp which supplies Egypt with military aid every year.

"Sisi very much knows that Egypt's geographic location will prevent the world from straying away from supporting them," adds Decker. "Egypt is fighting Isis and Egypt is faced with the Libyan situation, increasingly so with the African refugee crisis coming to the Mediterranean shores. So, Sisi has plenty of opportunities to redeem himself on the European and international political scene."

After coming to power in July 2013, Sisi held a presidential election in May 2014, winning a landslide victory. He proceeded to launch a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood movement, banning them from running in the country's elections and designating them as a terrorist organisation.

Last year, an Egyptian judge sentenced 683 men, including another Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, to death in a mass trial, sparking condemnation from human rights groups and activists. One death sentence has been carried out and the rest of the sentences are still subject to appeal.