No respect for coup-installed rulers, says Turkey's PM amid row with Egypt

ANKARA (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday his government would never respect military-installed rulers, in remarks made after Egypt's expulsion of Ankara's ambassador.

"I will never respect those who come to power after coups," Mr Erdogan told reporters.

Egypt announced earlier that it was downgrading its diplomatic relations with Ankara, and expelled the Turkish ambassador over Mr Erdogan's "provocative" criticism of Cairo, in the latest escalation of tensions between the two countries.

In return, Ankara declared the Egyptian ambassador persona non grata and downgraded diplomatic relations to the level of charge d'affaires.

Both Turkey and Egypt had recalled their respective envoys in August for consultations, but while the Turkish ambassador eventually returned to Cairo in September, Egyptian Abderahman Salah El-Din stayed home.

The August 14 police and military crackdown on supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi sparked a storm of international condemnation and strained relations between Turkey and Egypt.

Mr Erdogan, a supporter of Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood, angered Egypt's new rulers after calling the July ouster of Mursi an "unacceptable coup".

The Turkish Premier said on Saturday his government backed democracy movements in the world, adding: "We never respect those who do not respect the people's sovereign rights."

After the spat with Cairo, Mr Erdogan flashed the "Rabaa" salute during a rally in the northern Turkish city of Trabzon early on Saturday.

He has often used the gesture during his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) rallies to show solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood.