Erdogan at UN General Assembly
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York Wednesday | Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strident speech at the UN General Assembly on Kashmir and his support for Pakistan shows that New Delhi’s relations with Ankara are on the downswing and that the Modi government has not engaged enough with the country, former diplomats said Thursday.

In his address at the UN in New York Wednesday, Erdogan said the Kashmir issue had to be resolved through “dialogue on the basis of justice, equity, and not through collision”. He added that, over the 72 years since India’s independence and Pakistan’s formation, the “Kashmir conflict” had not received adequate attention from the international community.

His speech came after a bilateral meeting between Erdogan and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan where the scrapping of Article 370 was discussed. India has not issued a statement on Erdogan’s remarks. 

“The statement made by Erdogan at the UN General Assembly has surely cast a shadow on the bilateral relationship between India and Turkey,” said M.K. Bhadrakumar, who was India’s ambassador to Turkey from 1998 to 2000.

“But this is also true that Turkey has been rhetorical on Kashmir. All we need to do at this point is engage with them,” he added. “We have become very one-dimensional since Turkey enjoys a friendly relationship with Pakistan. We are not engaging with them at all.” 


Also Read: This is how Modi is different from other Right-wing populists like Trump, Erdogan & Duterte


A strained relationship of late

Although this is not the first time that Turkey has weighed in on the Kashmir issue in Islamabad’s favour, India had previously been able to sidestep this and move forward on other issues of bilateral importance.

Historically, since 1947, Turkey has always leaned towards Pakistan, but New Delhi has always been able to take that in its stride and move on.

As Bhadrakumar explained, despite Turkey’s repeated attempts to rake up the issue of Kashmir in Pakistan’s support, New Delhi and Ankara were able to institutionalise a dialogue on the Taliban. 

In 2011, the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA-IP) — to which India is also a party — was founded on November 2 in Istanbul for the development of Afghanistan.

Earlier, in 2000, under former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit came visiting to receive an honorary doctorate of literature from Visva Bharati for his keen interest in the literary works of Rabindranath Tagore. 

At the age of 16, Ecevit had translated into Turkish Tagore’s seminal ‘Gitanjali’, a collection of poetry. He was, at the time, the first Turkish premier to visit India in 14 years.

When Ecevit came to India, the then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf asked him to make a stopover at Islamabad. But despite having deep friendly ties with the country, Ecevit refused the offer in order to not hurt India’s sentiments. 

However, the relationship has been strained in recent years despite President Erdogan’s interest in boosting trade and economic ties with India.

Erdogan, a controversial leader at home for his iron-fisted rule and bid to dilute Turkey’s secular character, last visited India in 2017, accompanied by a high-level business delegation. 

Both sides had then set a two-way trade target of $10 billion by 2020, up from $6.4 billion at the time. Bilateral trade had only reached $7.84 billion in 2018-19, according to Department of Commerce data.

PM Modi, who makes frequent state visits to different countries, has never visited Turkey since he first took office over five years ago

His silence on Uyghurs

Erdogan’s Kashmir statement stood in sharp contrast to his silence on China’s detention of Uyghur Muslims, a cause he was heard raising until last year, even as he spoke about the plight of Muslims around the world.

This, despite the fact that Turkey is the only Muslim-majority country that has direct links with the Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group.

Discussing the shift, a former Indian envoy to Ankara said China had been “able to achieve this due to constant dialogue and diplomacy”. 

“In fact, Beijing had invited Erdogan and other observers from Turkey to visit the Xinjiang province [where China’s Uyghurs are primarily based]. India should do the same as far as Kashmir is concerned,” the envoy added.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic who has a road named after him in Delhi, had always envisioned creating a country that would not be governed by religion. However, that vision has definitely been reversed under Erdogan, who is now following neo-Ottoman ambitions and is keen to proclaim himself the “caliph of all Muslims”.

“It is true that the kind of engagement India has with the Gulf countries is not happening with Turkey. But it is also true that there are limits to this relationship,” said Talmiz Ahmad, former Indian ambassador to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

“We do not have too many complementarities with this country. But we have to also understand that Erdogan is the leader of a party that is an Islamic party. So it is essential for him to uphold Islamic causes,” he added. 

Ahmad also stressed that the Turkey-Pakistan friendship dated back to the Cold War-era and that the relationship was only going to get stronger. So, New Delhi, he said, should focus on expanding bilateral ties with Ankara.


Also Read: Turkey willing to mediate between ‘friends’ India and Pakistan, says envoy Sakir Ozkan Torunlar


 

 

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27 Comments Share Your Views

27 COMMENTS

  1. LET THEM [CHINA, TURKEY, MALAYSIA …….. ] TALK WHOEVER WANTS WHAT ON KASHMIR. INDIA GIVES A DAMN. INDIA HAS DONE WHATEVER IT WANTED TO AND US, RUSSIA, FRANCE, JAPAN, GERMANY …………….. ALL ‘OK’ WITH THAT. IF PAKISTAN HAS BALLS, ADVISE PAKISTAN TO BATTLE WITH INDIA TOGETHER WITH FRIENDS AND SNATCH KASHMIR FROM INDIA. CAN PAKISTAN DO IT? THEY WILL NEED TO HAVE 5-BALLS INSTEAD OF TWO. THE FATE OF KASHMIR IS ALREADY FINALIZED AND NO-ONE ON EARTH CAN CHANGE IT. BETTER CHILL AND CONCENTRATE ON OTHER THINGS. THIS WOULD BE A BETTER OPTION ……………. SNATCHING KASHMIR FROM INDIA IS LIKE SNATCHING A BONE FROM THE MOUTH OF A LION …………………..

  2. Turkey is neither a economic ro military power, there is no reason for India to go out and make efforts ro placate them, they can continue to be friends with Pakistan and it does not matter to India.

  3. Basu is reading in between lines.
    Erdogan has said nothing against India and only wants the Kashmir problem should be solved as everyone else in the world wants it so.

    Even if we think that Erdogan is pro Pakistan and anti Indian it is not such a thing as to give acres of space in the media as done by Basu. Erdogan has no much standing in the world. US is unhappy with him and at home he has lot of opposition and how long he will last as the head of Turkey is a good guess.
    India cannot expect every country on the world to agree with their thinking. If Israel had tried to please all the countries that oppose its thinking they would not have existed today. To be frank what Erdogan;s comment is just water on the back of a duck for India. Blaming Modi and India for not keeping good relation with Turkey is absurd.

  4. Firstly, whether Tagor’s Gitanjali is merely a collection of poems? Secondly, why this comment has been made into a long article, as the person has been qualified in the article itself as controversial, non secular, dictatorial, selectively critical etc.? # The Print, India is moving on, why you you are not?

  5. In order to truly understand why Turkey is supporting Pakistan and raising Kashmir issue, we need to delve a little bit deep. Bear with me. Let’s start with Erdoğan:

    In recent years, Erdoğan has been accelerating reestablishment of the Ottoman-style islamic government encompassing several muslim nations and a sharia-governed caliphate. Referring to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the withdrawal of Turkish forces from other nations, Erdoğan said:
    “Yes, it has been a century since we left those lands but the waiting and the hope of the people there has never ended. Yesterday, we were there as a state. Today, we are there with our charitable, educational and health organizations as well as our projects of development. You know I say, ‘The world is bigger than five’ (referring to the veto power of the five permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council). And Turkey is bigger than Turkey; just know this. We cannot be trapped inside 780,000 kilometers (Turkey’s total area). For our physical borders are different from the borders of our heart. Our brothers in Mosul, Kirkuk (in Iraq), in Al-Hasakah, Aleppo, Homs (in Syria), Misrata (in Libya), Skopje (in the Republic of Macedonia), Crimea (in the Russian Federation) and the Caucasus might be outside our physical borders, but they are all inside the borders of our heart. They are right inside our heart.”

    In 2017, participants of the Strategic Research Center for Defenders of Justice (ASSAM) endorsed the aim of “unity of islam” through establishing the “Confederation of islamic Countries.” Its declaration was approved by ASSAM and 109 NGOs, seventy of which were from Turkey and the rest from 29 other countries. The declaration reads, in part: “islamic countries have to unite under one common will and an ‘islamic Countries Parliament’ which will conduct permanent activities has to be established urgently. The confederation aims to include sixty-one Islamic countries in the Unity of Islam provided they decide in free will and accept the unity terms and conditions.” In addition, a model constitution was drafted, according to which the capital of the islamic confederation is Istanbul; sovereignty “belongs to Shariah (Islamic law)”; and four of the member states, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia are already European muslim-majority countries. The first congress also concluded that “each islamic country should create a ‘Ministry of islamic Union’ within its Council of Ministers. The self-described aim of the congress is “to make determinations on an academic and political ground with regard to current problems in world politics, particularly in Islamic world geography, and to offer solutions to decision-makers.” Now, do you get why the Turks are poking their noses into Kashmir?

    Erdoğan’s chief military advisor, Adnan Tanrıverdi, a retired Islamist lieutenant general and other prominent supporters of Erdoğan promoted the creation of a common muslim economic market. Participants declared their aim to create an islamic “superpower of the future on islamic lands owned by 60 islamic countries, inhabited by 1.6 billion muslims, on 19 million square km,” constituting “55.5% of world oil reserves and 45.6% of its production, 64.1% of natural gas reserves, and 33% of its production.”

    In that context, a unhindered Qatar-Turkey pipeline will put the US LNG sales to Europe in trouble. The Kurdish state is to act as a buffer zone between Turkey and the middle east to ensure energy and trade routes cannot pass to and from Turkey without US approval. Hence, the US support to the Kurds. That’s why, Erdoğan wants to ‘cleanse’ the Kurds out (https://thedefensepost.com/2017/11/17/erdogan-cleanse-kurdish-efrin-pyd-ypg/) to remove any threat to the pipeline. Further, the Chinese Silk Road will put Turkey in the middle of world trade when it connects Europe, Asia, Africa. The silk road will seriously undermine the US dominance in the world. Hence, the Chinese-Turk camaraderie.

    The Turkish government spends hundreds of millions of dollars building mosques as part of a long-term effort to promote islam around the world. muslims hope that new mosques throughout Europe will advance and facilitate their wish to spread islam to non-slamic countries and persuade the “infidels” to abandon their faith in favor of islam. The mosque that Ankara is currently constructing in Tirana, Albania, will reportedly be the largest of the dozens of its mosques in the Balkans. In 2018, Erdoğan inaugurated Turkey’s latest European mosque, “The Cologne Central Mosque,” located in the Cologne, Germany., built by Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB). The German media reported that the country’s intelligence service is pondering putting DITIB under surveillance, following its involvement in several scandals, such as its imams spying for Turkish diplomatic posts, its refusal to attend an “anti-terrorism march” in Cologne, its calls on worshipers to pray for a Turkish military victory against Kurds in northern Syria, and holding a military re-enactment involving Turkish flags and fake guns handed to child “martyrs.”

    Erdoğan repeatedly has said that his government aims to raise “devout generations” in Turkey. To this end, he has islamized Turkey’s education system. In a 2017 speech, Erdoğan boasted that, after his Justice and Development Party came to power, the number of students at the religious imam hatip schools rose from 60,000 to 1.3 million. His political ambition is not raising honest, well-educated, free minds, but “raising pious generations.” Turkey’s Higher Education Board, widely viewed as a council used by governments to shape education policies that reflect partisan political agendas, in 2016 asked 1,577 university deans (reportedly every dean in the country) to resign for the sake of democracy. Erdoğan is also working on exporting islamized curricula to Europe. The Maarif Foundation established in 2016 by means of a law enacted by the Turkish parliament, which gave it the authority to open schools abroad. Maarif runs 257 schools in 58 countries. The vice president of the Maarif Foundation, Osman Nuri Kabaktepe, is the former head of the youth branches of the Islamist Felicity (Saadet) Party, once led by Necmettin Erbakan, the late Turkish prime minister known for his fierce Jew-hatred and hostility to Israel and Europe. Erbakan, who championed a pan-Islamic union among Muslim peoples, has been described by Erdogan as “a teacher and a leader.” Kabaktepe, a senior consultant, along with Erdogan’s son, Bilal for the Turkey Youth Foundation (TÜGVA) referred to Erbakan’s having called Western civilization “filthy,” and claiming that the West owes its technological achievements to early muslim inventions. Kabaktepe added:

    “Islam is the most superior. Muslims are the most superior. That is what the (Koran) says.”

    In 2017, Turkey stopped teaching evolution at secondary school: for extremists, Darwinism remains a taboo subject. Instead, school textbooks started teaching Turkish pupils “jihad.” Nureddin Yıldız, one of the first members of the World Union of Scholars from Turkey and also the founding member of the Union of Scholars in Turkey, with whom Kabaktepe has an ongoing cooperative relationship, issued the following fatwa (islamic opinion) on his website:

    “Jihad is obligatory until judgment day… in some places, jihad is done with the pen; in others it is done with the tongue. And in some other places, it is carried out with guns. What is your jihad in the lands where you reside? If muslims are persecuted somewhere, it is because there is no caliphate where they live.”

    In the light of the above, Erdoğan raising Kashmir in UN seems obvious. It may be surprising to the former Indian ambassador to Turkey, M.K. Bhadrakumar and Nayanima Basu, but not to seasoned observers of Turkey. The dark shadow had been cast for quite some time now.

    Will India be a passive hapless victim as usual? or Will it actively assist the people of Turkey and the Kurds to get rid of this narcissistic beast?

    • Normally, I wouldn’t bother. In this case, it is crucial to alert the readers to the potential threat to the security of the nation and let them arrive at the conclusions on their own. I assume it’s not in the nature of Shekar Gupta’s Print to sit on such a important information or be queasy about its reception. Here’s some pertinent details on the Marrif Foundation that I earlier commented on:

      A world map is posted in The Maarif Foundation official website illustrating its reach around the world (https://turkiyemaarif.org/page/42-dunyada-tmv-16). Yes, it’s tentacles have reached India and contacts have been made according to its website (see grey key in the map). It is important to know who is their Indian contacts. Hence, the urgency to stop it before it sets up shop and sabotages peace in India by kindling communal and societal tensions, as it did in Germany. The Trojan Horse aspect of the Maarif Foundation is clearly brought to light in this article written by the Turkish authors (https://www.turkishminute.com/2017/09/05/opinion-turkeys-maarif-foundation-erdogans-trojan-horse/).

      A home grown backlash to the Erdoğan’s fanatical agenda of manufacturing muslims of a certain type is documented here and contains very lucid comments on political islamization and a call for redemption from leading Turkish islamic scholars (https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/14815/turkey-religious-backlash).

    • Your post is quite revelatory. I had a fair idea of the kind of charecter Erdogan is ,as also his delusional ardor for a reincarnation of the Ottoman empire, with Turks inherting the manner of primacy they held whilom. I believe he’s set his eyes on Saudi Arabia, and if his electorate is getting disenchanted with his worldview, Saudi Arabia shall be the most proximate and the most efficacious remedy, should he succeed in getting MBS out of his way , and make somewhat plausible the conception of , Turkey once more being the custodian of the twin cities. Saudi Arabia, along with UAE, Bahrain and to quite an extent Egypt, are quite aware of it now, but flummoxed by the perverse alliance Erdogan has entered into with Shia Iran. Working in concert they have essentially got SA by the throat, one’s pounding it in Yemen even as the other has successfully painted MBS as the evil princeling ever ready to kidnap , murder and dismember any one that voices dissent. India would do well to take up with these middle eastern nations and steer clear of Iran, which anyways unlike Saudi can’t help manage the Muslims in India, at times like these when they’re busy hob nobbing with Pakistanis on the internet.
      Pakistanis , strangely have in the last few years become increasingly sympathetic to Iran and hostile to the Gulf countries. This is the right moment for India to endeavor to utilise this accretionary drift and create unbridgable rifts.

    • Guys such as Imran Khan, Erdogan, and Mahatir keep invoking “muslim ummah”, and yet complain about islamophobia. Why reduce every thing to religion. How about a Christian Ummah, Hindu Ummah? Do these guys like it?

  6. Turkey has always had good relationship with Pakistan. Now Turkey is turning pro-Russia lobby & Turkey is influenced by powerful Wahabi lobby and loosing its secular credential due to influence of Wahabi lobby which want to Islamize whole world. Pakistan is also under Wahabi lobby. So slowly China-Pakistan-Turkey-Russia axis is emerging. Iran is also joining this axis. What Turkey is doing against is result of Wahabi influence and new axis formed. India can not do anything.

  7. India ha been able to convince the world J&K is an internal issue. They should read history before making any statement. J&K annexed itself with Indian Union 75 years back. India knows what is best for them.

  8. It is time India approach hard nose policy toward Turkey. Turkey is no saint. India should also make statement about Kurds and resolving Kurd- Turkish issues by negotiation. Anyway Turkey is neither a major economy, noe Hi-tech nor has oil. So tell Erdogan to get lost.

  9. There are very few people from whom Pakistan has been able to gather support. China, Turkey, Print, Wire, Scroll, First post, NDTV etc. None of them matters to the world now.

  10. As a first response, let’s immediately remove the name of Ataturk from that road you mention and name it after an Armenian who fought against the Turkish genocide there.

  11. There is not much we can get from Turkey from a business perspective. We, on the other hand, are a big source for their tourism revenues. If Turkey things they have more to gain from siding with Pakistan — good riddance. Let them enjoy their swim in the glory of Islamic pool. The fact remains, Turkey’s economy is in the drains, like Pakistan. At this point, they have no hopes of joining the EU. The only thing they can offer to the world is more headaches.

  12. Overall, the diplomatic corps, led by FS Vijay Gokhale, has worked diligently to contain the fallout from recent changes. It would be too much to expect them to mould global media. However, the more consequential aspect of government reactions has been handled very competently. They have made good use of India’s economic salience to the rest of the world,, including purchase of hydrocarbons from the Middle East and weapons from Russia and France.

    • Ashokuddin
      Ass a non resident Paki, you always parrot paki propaganda lines. You would like everyone to believe economic reasons are behind global support for India.

      Not that your Pakistan is a religious exclusivist, Jihadi failed state, a hate entity whereas India is a democracy with a secular constitution and India has a much stronger moral case against further religion based separatism.

  13. This is a classic Indian hand wringing and self blame. This is what happens when you talk to Bhadrakumar too much! Erdogan is trying to position himself as a leader of the Islamic world. So his comments are driven by a larger agenda. Turkey with its weak economy stands to loose more from this posturing. For instance, the Turkish airline is desperate for greater market access to the growing traffic to India. We should politely and firmly let them know that Erdogan’s posturing will come with at a proportional cost.

  14. Don’t hype it! Nobody has given any meaningful, substantial support to Pakistan. This includes China, Malaysia and Turkey. Desperate and persistent lobbying from Pakistan has led to feeble support. None of these countries have desire to antagonize India.

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