Turkey, India are 'natural' allies: AKP deputy
Delivering the third 'MK Gandhi Memorial Lecture' at the Indian embassy in the Turkish capital, Efkan Ala, head of the Turkey-India Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group, said Turkey considers India a “friend and important partner”.
“President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have very good relations and high-level exchanges,” he said.
“Turkey and India supported each other during the most critical times,” he added. “Our people are more connected than ever.”
Ala said India is a growing economy, has a huge market with outstanding knowledge of space technology and rich human resources and a deep-rooted historical and cultural heritage.
“Turkey remains determined to develop its relations with India, which is the world's largest democracy and the planet's second most populous country.”
He said Turkey is keen to tap the existing potential in its bilateral ties with India and in inter- and multi-national cooperation.
“Turkey and India are two democratic, plural states with liberal economies and two open societies. These are very important values,” he said. “As a matter of fact, there is a broad correlation amongst sustainable development and democratic ideology.”
He said the growing relationship between Turkey and India has a possibility to make “us major players in regional and global issues”.
Ala, a former interior minister of Turkey, said “India, like Turkey, is located at a strategic geography with its strategic depth, cultural richness and natural resources…[Thus] these two countries are natural allies.”
He said relations between the two countries are undergoing an evolutionary process.
“Our relations with India are growing with high-level contacts,” he said.
Terming the 2017 visit of Turkey's president to India as a “historic step” towards enhancing bilateral relations, Ala said the two sides have set a goal of $10 billion in bilateral trade by 2020. It stood at $8.6 billion in 2018.
Referring to Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan's visit to India last December, he said a joint economic committee summit between Turkey and India is expected to be held in Ankara later this year.
“There are many strategic opportunities for the two countries thanks to the momentum gained by the cooperation by relevant ministries and businesses,” he said. “We placed India among our priority countries in 2018 and 2019 in trade.”
He said that since bilateral trade has increased significantly in the preceding decade, “maybe it is time for the launching of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)”.
“Turkey could open markets in North Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia to India which will supplement India's quest for wider new markets,” he suggested.
He added that it was important for the two countries to maintain momentum in bilateral visits and “Turkey is willing to do so”.
Stressing that the two sides should intensify bilateral relations, he said “we should identify new areas of cooperation. We are determined to spare no efforts to strengthen people to people contacts”.
“We hope to host Prime Minister Modi soon,” he added.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, Indian Ambassador to Turkey Sanjay Bhattacharyya said the Turkish government is releasing a set of commemorative stamps to honor Mahatma Gandhi.
“We are working with the Turkish Foreign Ministry on the installation of a bust of MK Gandhi in Ankara,” he said.
Referring to the historic relations between the then Indian sub-continent and what is now Turkey, Bhattacharyya mentioned how medical missions from the region, including one led by Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, known as Dr. MA Ansari in India, had participated in the Balkan wars.
Touching on bilateral relations, the Indian ambassador said the frequent contacts between the leaders of the two countries “have brought about a very close understanding” and they recently met in Osaka, Japan on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in June.
“It is imparting a new momentum in our overall relations,” he said, terming India and Turkey “natural partners in the 21st century”.
Earlier, the Indian ambassador took guests on a tour of a photo exhibition showing different aspects of Gandhi's life.