New Delhi: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raised the issue of Kashmir once again at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), but his tone was more mellow than in 2019.
The statement comes less than seven days after his ice-breaking meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing the ongoing UNGA in New York Wednesday, Erdoğan said: “India and Pakistan, after having established their sovereignty and independence 75 years ago, they still haven’t established peace and solidarity between one another. This is much unfortunate. We hope and pray that a fair and permanent peace and prosperity will be established in Kashmir.”
Erdoğan has been more explicit about leaning towards Pakistan earlier.
His 2019 statement came during an address at the general debate of the 74th Session of the General Assembly of the UN. He had said, “Despite the resolutions adopted (by the UNSC), Kashmir is still besieged and eight million people are stuck in Kashmir.”
In 2020, Erdoğan referred to the Kashmir conflict as a “key to the stability and peace of South Asia” and a “burning issue” at the UNGA meet.
However, the bilateral ties hit the lowest point during an address by the Turkish President at the Pakistan parliament in 2020. He said that they (Kashmiris) “suffered for decades … It was Canakkale (a reference to a military campaign in World War 1) yesterday and it is Kashmir today, there is no difference”.
India has rejected his statements before and asked him “not to interfere in India’s internal affairs and develop proper understanding of the facts, including the grave threat posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan to India and the region.”
But this time the Ministry of External Affairs has maintained complete silence. However, it remains to be seen if India gives a reaction during its intervention at the UNGA.
Government sources told ThePrint that New Delhi believes the remarks made by Erdoğan were “unwarranted and completely unnecessary” now that both sides are charting a new path in their bilateral ties.
“Such comments only make it difficult for smooth progress in bilateral ties. Kashmir is an internal issue. India will neither allow third-party intervention in it nor will it allow the subject to be internationalised … But this time it’s [more] mellow,” said a top government official.
Erdoğan and Modi met last week in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit where both sides decided to “deepen economic linkages” keeping aside these irritants.
According to the sources quoted above, India is also closely watching Ankara’s growing ties with Moscow, which is pulling Turkey closer towards the Eurasian region, particularly the SCO.
M.K. Bhadrakumar, former Ambassador of India to Turkey said, “Turkey is on the path of SCO. They have also decided to be part of BRICS. Turkey has taken kind of a Eurasian turn in their foreign policy and it is going to be a player in Asian politics. And that’s why he says Kashmir should be solved in terms of the UN resolutions. We cannot object to that.”
“Unlike previous times, this time Turkey did not condemn India for violence. What they have said this time is something that Saudi Arabia and Iran also say. No need to be unnecessarily hostile towards them,” he said.
Bhadrakumar added that Erdoğan’s main concern is “optics in the Islamic world and not so much about India.”
(Edited by Theres Sudeep)