Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s little stunt at the United Nations General Assembly last year has still not ceased hurting him and Turkey. The supremacist and neo-caliphate ambitions of the Turkish President have now brought him to Pakistan, where he, along with Imran Khan raked up the Kashmir bogey during their joint press conference.
Erdogan drew parallels between the “struggle of Kashmiri people” and the battle of Gallipoli which was fought in Turkey between the Allied forces and the erstwhile Ottoman Empire. The Turkish President remarked that there is no difference between Gallipoli and Kashmir. The comments were made during Erdogan’s 4th visit to Pakistan. This was followed by a strong refutation by India’s MEA, which strictly told Turkey to not interfere in India’s internal affairs.
“India rejects all references to Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral and inalienable part of India. We call upon the Turkish leadership not to interfere in India’s internal affairs and develop a proper understanding of the facts, including the grave threat posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan to India and the region,” Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson for the MEA said.
India has raised diplomatic temperatures with Turkey ever since Erdogan raised Kashmir in his UNGA address last year. There have been multiple diplomatic and trade onslaughts by New Delhi following Erdogan’s misadventure. Among the many, the most significant blow has now been delivered to Turkey. Indian and Armenian Foreign Ministers have held a one-on-one dialogue in the United States.
A statement read, “The sides noted that the Armenian-Indian relations have gained a new quality. They stressed the importance of preserving the dynamics of bilateral political dialogue, and expressed satisfaction with their cooperation and mutual support within international platforms.” This move alone should be sufficient to send shivers down the spine of Turkish President and wannabe Khalifa, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This move comes at a time when Erdogan was getting cozy with Imran Khan on a state visit to Pakistan.
Very good meeting with FM @ZMnatsakanyan of Armenia. Our long-standing historical links are today expressed in growing political, economic and security cooperation. Confident that this close relationship will further deepen in the years ahead. pic.twitter.com/QK2K1dfIlY
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) February 14, 2020
On the sidelines of the UNGA session last year, it is worthy to be noted that PM Modi also held one-on-one meetings with the Armenian Prime Minister and Cypriot President. PM Modi met the Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly. He also held a dialogue with his Greek counterpart. All these three countries share a bloody history with Turkey, which has historically wronged the people of these countries.
Not many would be aware of the Armenian Genocide (1914-1923) which was carried out by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, effectively killing over 1.5 million Armenians, as Turkey (then known as the Ottoman Empire) brutally carried out the ethnic cleansing of the community. The genocide is believed to have begun on April 24, 1915, when the Ottoman authorities executed hundreds of Armenian intellectuals.
After that, the ordinary Armenians were pushed out of their homes and sent on death marches in the Mesopotamian desert without food and water until they dropped dead. Those who stopped during these death marches were shot dead. The killing squads, comprising of murderers and other convicted criminals, also employed merciless means to murder Armenians living in the Turkish countryside- drowning them in rivers, pushing them off cliffs, crucifying them and even burning them alive. The population of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was about 2 million before the massacre. By the end of this genocide, less than 4 lakh Armenians were left in the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey’s leaders quiver when the Armenian genocide is being talked about. Much to their despair, the United States last year passed a congressional resolution officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman empire. Now, it is upon India to do the same.
The meetings held at the Prime Ministerial level last year, and now followed up by S Jaishankar’s meeting with his Armenian counterpart, may just be indicative of India delivering the final nail in its relations with Turkey. Recognition of the genocide will infuriate Erdogan, but he would have nobody but himself to blame, for he knew very well that angering India would prove detrimental to his country’s interests.
India has been tacitly siding with three of Turkey’s enemy nations – Greece, Cyprus and Armenia. As such, in the context of friendly bilateral ties with India, Turkey is the only isolated nation to not have any, while three of its surrounding nations do. Cyprus was violently partitioned by Turkey in 1974, after an invasion, which ultimately led to the Turkish occupation of a major part of Cyprus by the end of the invasion. More recently, Turkey has been trying to occupy parts of what is left of Cyprus and has been at odds with Greece for this reason.
While recognition of the Armenian Genocide might still be under discussion at the PMO, India has not wasted any time in delivering knockout punches to Erdogan. From the cancellation of PM Modi’s visit to Turkey to reduction in imports and trade ties, the significant ground has been covered by India to hurt Turkish interests. India also cancelled a $2.32 billion deal with Turkish defence company Anadolu Shipyard, which was given the project to manufacture five 45,000 tonne fleet support ships. India also slammed Turkey for its unilateral military invasion of North-Eastern Syria.
Recognition of the Armenian genocide should be the next move of India to ring a final bell in Erdogan’s ears, to fall in line and not indulge in anti-India propaganda, or be made an agent of destruction of his country’s economy for underestimating India’s potential to do so. India must also condemn in strong words Turkey’s ongoing invasion of Syria.