Turkey is spiralling down into uncharted territory as its President turned dictator Erdogan seems to have lost it in his blind pursuit of mixing Islam and politics. To everyone’s surprise, Erdogan toed the line of Pakistan and Malaysia and ranted against India at the UNGA. Since then, the country has spiralled into total chaos as Erdogan takes Turkey closer to Pakistan and even proposing having dual citizenship between the two nations.
India’s response to Turkey’s unwarranted attack on its sovereignty has been swift and brutal as it has stepped on Turkey’s jugular vein and engaged with Turkey’s arch-rival, Armenia. In a major development, India has bagged $40 million defence deal in Armenia beating Russia and Poland. India and Armenia are enhancing bilateral ties with a formidable defence deal and this spells out what the future holds for India-Turkey relations.
This is also a major victory for Make in India, and the supply of equipment to Armenia has already started. As reported by ANI, India has bagged a deal worth $40 million for four indigenously-built weapon locating radars to Armenia by beating Russian and Polish sellers. “The deal is for supplying four Swathi weapon locating radars developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by the Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to Armenia in Europe,” government sources told ANI.
The Armenians conducted trials of the Russian and Polish systems which were found to be good enough but decided to go with the more reliable Indian systems. India will supply four Swathi weapon locating radars to Armenia which provide fast, automatic and accurate location of enemy weapons like mortars, shells and rockets in its 50-km range. The radar can simultaneously handle multiple projectiles fired from different weapons at different locations. The Indian Army is also using the same radars for its operations along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir where they trace the source of attack by Pakistani positions. It is believed that the system will give Armenia a strategic edge over Turkey.
This development shows how deeply India is interested in poking Turkey back. Erdogan’s little stunt at the United Nations General Assembly last year has still not ceased hurting him and Turkey. He has allied with Pakistan to the detriment of India. 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.
Ever since Erdogan’s stunt, India has been looking to hit back at Turkey as it has stepped up the diplomatic offensive against Turkey. The deal to supply defence equipment to Armenia is no fluke. This development comes after Indian and Armenian Foreign Ministers held a one-on-one dialogue in the United States earlier this year. 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.” The meeting came at a time when Erdogan was getting cosy with Imran Khan on a state visit to Pakistan.
It is worthy to be noted that PM Modi also held one-on-one meetings with the Armenian Prime Minister and Cypriot President on the sidelines of UNGA last year. 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. 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.
Last year, the Turkish Tourism Board in India had revealed that between January to July this year, there had been a 56% increase in the number of Indian tourist arrivals in comparison to the same period last year, hosting 130,000 Indian visitors. Post Erdogan’s anti-India rant at the UNGA, India was quick to hit back with a travel advisory. India issued an advisory to its citizens visiting Turkey, asking them to “exercise utmost caution” while visiting the Middle East country. This move would further hit Turkey’s tourism industry.
The Government of India has also put on hold a USD 2.3 billion shipbuilding (Indian Navy) contract which was to be awarded to a Turkish company. India has already taken action against Turkish defence company Anadolu Shipyard that builds support ships for the Indian Navy, barring it from the huge Indian defence market. In addition to Turkey’s open support for Pakistan, it appears Turkey is building ships for Pakistan’s navy as well. Media reports have quoted Indian defence ministry officials as saying that this made the Turkish firm a security threat.
While Erdogan thought he was going to put India on the back foot by helping Pakistan’s navy, India managed to beat Erdogan in his own game by engaging with Armenia. By giving a good deal to Armenia, India has enhanced defence relations with Turkey’s perceived enemy. Relations are sour between the two nations primarily because a gruesome genocide of Armenians took place at the hands of Turkey, formerly the Ottoman empire. Even as the US Congress recognised it as a genocide last year, Turkish leadership remains in denial.
Armenia also sees a superpower friend in India which offers weaken its enemy Turkey’s global stature. As Turkey gets closer to Pakistan, by saying that Kashmir is as important to Turkey it is to Pakistan, Erdogan thinks he can challenge a non-Muslim rising superpower, India.
In return, It appears India may get closer militarily with Armenia and even Greece in the time to come. Both countries are sworn enemies of Turkey. This will be a way to challenge Turkey in its backyard.
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