Turkey Prez Erdogan meets Modi for talks on trade expansion, NSG membership

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held bilateral trade talks with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today in New Delhi, on the latter’s second visit to the nation. Erdogan and Modi also addressed a Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) Business summit meeting earlier in the day.

The talks touched upon India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Kashmir issue, but were mainly about how to boost bilateral ties between the two nations. Bilateral Trade between the two countries stood at USD6.4 billion in 2016, up from USD4 billion in 2010.

There is scope for cooperation in sectors such as construction/infrastructure development, renewable energy, tourism and film shooting. A number of Indian companies have established their presence in Turkey through production facilities or project participation. Some Agreements/MoUs are currently under negotiation between the two countries as well.

The Sabah talk
The Sabah talk. Photo: Connected to India

The groundwork for Erdogan’s visit was laid through a talk hosted last week by Turkish pro-state newspaper Sabah. During the talk, the question of Kashmir had been brought up by Connected to India, and special advisor to President Erdogan Ilnur Cevik had called for a peaceful solution through dialogue. Erdogan yesterday called for a “multilateral dialogue” with Turkey’s involvement to resolve the Kashmir issue, a statement that drew some flak from the mainstream Indian media.

“We should not allow more casualties to occur and by strengthening multilateral dialogue, we can be involved, and through multilateral dialogue, I think we have to seek out ways to settle this question once and for all, which will benefit both countries,” he said. However, India has repeatedly stated that the Kashmir issue is a bilateral one.

A large business delegation including about 100 representatives of Turkish Industry and business accompanied President Erdoğan as the India-Turkey Business Forum also met during the visit.

During the FICCI summit, PM Modi said that India and Turkey enjoy great a historic and cultural connection and share a common economic worldview.

“India and Turkey are among the 20 largest economies in the world. More importantly, both economies have shown remarkable stability even in volatile global economic conditions. As we strive to build stronger political ties, the time has come to also make more aggressive effort to deepen the economic relations,” he said.

​Erdogan, who two weeks ago won a referendum for increasing the powers of the nation’s President, is also looking around for allies after allegations of suppression of free speech and dictatorial control have led to him becoming estranged from the European Union (EU) and NATO.

Erdogan said the two countries should move to achieve the actual business potential of their ties. “This meeting marks a new era of business relations,” he said.

Erdogan said the two nations can complement each other in several areas including research, and added that his country can assist in India’s need for rapid development of infrastructure. “Joint trade volume should be balanced. Steps should be taken to achieve that,” Erdogan said.

President Erdogan inspecting the guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.
President Erdogan inspecting the guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan
in New Delhi. Photo courtesy: mea.gov.in

During the course of his visit, Erdoğan was given a ceremonial guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan today morning followed by a wreath laying by him at Mahatma Gandhi's Samadhi, Raj Ghat. Indian President Pranab Mukherjee hosted a banquet in his honour and he was conferred an Honorary degree (Honoris Causa) by Jamia Milia Islamia University. Additionally, Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari also called on President Erdoğan, who is set to leave Delhi tonight.