Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had launched a sudden diplomatic offensive against India during his UNGA speech. He raised the Kashmir issue in support of Pakistan’s attempts to internationalise India’s move of abrogating Article 370, even though the entire community of nations had come out agreeing that abrogation of Article 370 is India’s internal issue. During his speech, Erdogan said, “Despite the resolutions adopted, Kashmir is still besieged and eight million people are stuck in Kashmir.”
India has not allowed Turkey to get away lightly after making such obnoxious remarks that are clearly detrimental to India’s territorial sovereignty. India has been delivering diplomatic jolts to Ankara ever since, the latest one being the cancellation of PM Modi’s Turkey visit.
PM Modi’s visit to Turkey had been discussed in June last year, when he met the Turkish President Erdogan in Osaka. Sources now say that the visit is unlikely to take place. While India seems to have cancelled PM Modi’s visit as a part of several moves that India took following its “unhappiness” over Erdogan’s objectionable remarks about the Kashmir issue, the Turkish government still expects the visit to take place.
In fact, The Hindu has reported that Turkey’s Ambassador to India Şakir Özkan Torunlar has stated that his country was expecting PM Modi’s visit. He said, “It is not just an expectation [PM Modi’s visit to Turkey]. It has been discussed recently, and we are now awaiting on alternative date proposals according to the PM Modi’s schedule in the next couple of months. The Government of India has to decide, but it certainly is being discussed, and we are awaiting dates from the South Block.”
It is clear that PM Modi’s decision to put off his visit is giving some rather anxious moments to Turkey. India is making Turkey pay a heavy price for its unwarranted support to Pakistan over the Kashmir issue at the UNGA and also its support for the terrorist country at the Paris-based terror financing watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Official sources have also confirmed that the $2.3 billion tender that was granted to Turkey’s Anadolu Shipyard earlier this year is also likely to be scrapped. Therefore, the Turkish shipyard has ended up losing the defence deal to help build five 45,000-tonne Fleet Support Ships (FSS) and only Erdogan’s objectionable stance, utterly disregarding India’s sovereignty, is to be blamed for this. Sources say that rules for local procurement and security concerns over the Turkish Shipyard’s association with the Pakistan Navy were the reasons behind the cancellation of the project, apart from the sore UNGA speech.
“The contract for the 45,000-ton fleet support ships (FSS) for the Indian Navy with the Turkish Company could be delayed….It could be a fall out of Turkey cosying up to Pakistan and raising Kashmir issue at the recently concluded 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA),” an Officer told Financial Express Online.
From the cancellation of PM Modi’s visit and repeated reports of India cancelling the FSS project with an estimated cost of $2.3 billion which was to be undertaken by Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in collaboration with Turkish M/s Anadolu Shipyard, it is clear that India is intending to inflict diplomatic and economic costs upon Turkey following Erdogan’s unwarranted interference in India’s internal affairs.
A shift in India’s stance became visible towards Turkey became evident soon after Erdogan’s Kashmir remarks at the 74th session of the UNGA itself, when the Indian Prime Minister had met the Armenia PM Nikol Pashinyan and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on the sidelines of the event. Both the countries have been wronged by Turkey in the past.
Apart from meeting Armenian and Cypriot leaders, PM Modi also met his Greek counterpart as Erdogan cosied up to Pakistan. Greece and Turkey have long had strained relations.
Recently, India further sharpened its diplomatic tirade against Turkey by slamming Turkey over Operation Peace Spring, that is the Turkish military invasion into North-east Syria. A Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) statement read, “We are deeply concerned at the unilateral military offensive by Turkey in north-east Syria.” India also voiced concern about how Ankara’s actions could end up causing humanitarian and civilian distress in Syria.
While comments about the Turkish invasion into Syria came as a severe diplomatic jolt for Turkey, India is all set to follow it up with cancellation of PM Modi’s visit and scrapping of the 2.3 billion US Dollars defence deal with the Turkish shipyard.
This is sure to hurt the Turkish economic interests, and also a huge cause of worry for the Erdogan administration if India’s move is a prelude into how bilateral relations between the two countries are going to shape up from here. India remains Turkey’s second-largest trading partner in Asia pacific, several Turkish companies have been heavily involved in business in India . However, Erdogan’s remarks seem to have landed the country in trouble as India seems set to move towards hurting its economic interests.