Invisible UN veto: Indian PM Modi attends G20 summit in Turkey!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
As Indian core media still harp on Indian birth right to be a veto holder of UN and to control the globe as an equal partner of USA, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has resumed his foreign tour, interrupted by the poll in Bihar which his BJP lost badly. Though unable to bear the pain inflicted upon him by the Bihar debacle, PM Modi has embarked upon two nation tour visiting Britain and Turkey, one after another. While Modi’s British visit was meant for business, he would attend a G20 and BRIC summits in Turkey.
In a way, South Asia meets Europe as Indian plan.
Following the conclusion of his three-day visit to Britain, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Turkey’s Mediterranean city of Antalya by “Air India One” yesterday after a three-day visit to Britain for the annual G20 Summit meeting that gets underway for the November 15. The British leg of Modi’s tour included a packed itinerary that saw delegation level talks between India and Britain and one-on-one parleys between the Indian prime minister and his British counterpart David Cameron. In a signal honour to India, Modi was hosted for a luncheon banquet by Queen Elizabeth II.
Apart from a civil nuclear agreement signed between the two countries, commercial deals worth $14 billion were signed. Modi also became the first Indian prime minister to address a joint session of the British parliament besides delivering a speech to the City of London at the Guild Hall to attract investors to India.
The highlight of Modi’s visit was his address to the Indian Diaspora in Britain at London’s Wembley Stadium on Friday night which was attended by around 60,000 people. The Indian prime minister also visited the plant of Tata subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover, India’s flagship investment in Britain, before emplaning for Turkey.
G20 in Turkey
Originally formed at the level of finance ministers and central bank governors in 1999 after the East Asian economic crisis, the G20 assumed significance after its elevation to a summit-level forum in 2008, following the global financial crisis.
Leaders expected at the G20 Summit include US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Besides India, France, the USA and Turkey, the G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Britain, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and the European Union. French President Francois Hollande has cancelled his visit to the meet in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris on Friday night.
India and Turkey
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Turkey in 1948, political and bilateral relations have been usually characterized by warmth and cordiality. Turkey and India are both secular democracies, based on ethnic, religious and linguistic plurality. India has an embassy in Ankara and a consulate–general in Istanbul. Turkey has an embassy in New Delhi and a consulate-general in Mumbai.
During World War I, the Indian Empire played a pivotal role in the successful Allied campaign against the Ottoman Empire. There are deep historical connections between India and Turkey. The first exchange of diplomatic missions between the Ottoman Sultans and the Muslim rulers of the subcontinent dates back to the years 1481-82.
India and Turkey also have a cultural overlap. The Turkic impact on India in areas such as language, culture and civilization, art and architecture, and costumes and cuisine was considerable. The Sufi philosophy of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi found a natural resonance in the Indian sub-continent with its own traditions of Sufism and the Bhakti movement. There are also over 9000 words common in Hindustani and Turkish languages.
India extended support in the 1920s to Turkey’s War of Independence and the formation of the Turkish republic. Mahatma Gandhi himself took a stand against the injustices inflicted on Turkey at the end of World War. Turkey recognized India right after its declaration of independence on 15 August 1947 and diplomatic relations were established between the two countries. As Turkey was part of the Western Alliance and India of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War era, the bilateral relations did not develop at a desired pace. However, since the end of the Cold War era, both sides put in effort in developing their bilateral relations in every field. In contemporary times, relations between India and Turkey have been strained due to Turkey’s religious mutuality with Pakistan.
NPT and Kashmir issue
Bilateral ties between the two countries remained tense over much of this period due to Turkey’s close support for Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir at international forums. Until recently, Turkey was a vocal advocate of Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir dispute.
Turkey was also one of the few opponents to India’s inclusion into the Nuclear Suppliers Group. However, in recent years, the relations between the two countries have warmed due to common strategic goals, and there is a growing bilateral cooperation in the fields of education, technology and commerce. Turkey has softened its pro-Pakistani approach on the Kashmir issue realizing that it is important to build up a coherent and comprehensive relationship with India and develop a holistic Asian policy.
Turkey has since reversed its support to Pakistan’s position on Kashmir, moving from a call for a plebiscite under UN supervision to stressing the importance of India-Pakistan bilateral talks to resolve the issue, which is by and large closer to India’s position.
Following an agreement with the USA in 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) granted India – a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – a unique exemption to engage in civilian nuclear trading without having to give up its nuclear arsenal. However, India objects to similar favor for Pakistan. Though both India and Pakistan have not signed the NPT India has been admitted to it while Pakistan is denied that favor. USA continues to play mischief with the people of Pakistan.
Israel played significant role to make Istanbul move away from its pro-Kashmir, pro-Pakistan stand as Turkey and Israel, mediated by USA and NATO, had maintained strong military ties undertaking joint military exercises with USA and Israel, ostensibly targeting the Kremlin.
In fact, Turkey was brought into NATO by USA to fight the Soviet Union during the Cold War and Israel somehow entered the US-Turkey alliance, literally against Arab nations. But the unnatural alliance between Turkey, a Muslim nation and a Jewish Israel, committed against Islam and Arabs, broke when Israeli military attacked on the sea the Turkish aidship bound for Gaza strip.
At present, Turkish Airlines operates daily flights from Mumbai and New Delhi to Istanbul. A joint study on a free trade area was conducted, but is yet to be signed. The major items of Indian exports to Turkey include: cotton and synthetic yarn, organic dyes, organic chemicals, denim, steel, granite, antibiotics, carpets, unwrought zinc, sesame seed, TV CRTs, mobile handsets, clothing and apparel. Turkey’s exports to India include: auto components, marble, textile machinery, handlooms, denim, carpets, cumin seed, minerals (vermiculite, perlite and chlorites), and fittings and steel products.
India’s GMR Group is one of the main stakeholders in the new Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Ankara. Turkey and India are members of the G20 group of major economies, where the two countries have closely cooperated on the management of the world economy. Bilateral trade in July 2012 stood at $7.5 billion, a figure that is expected to double to $15 billion by 2015. The 2000s have witnessed a leap forward in bilateral relations between Turkey and India, while bilateral trade volume soared from 500 million dollars in 2000 up to 7 billion dollars in 2013. As a result, India became Turkey’s 13th largest trade partner.
Strategically, there are growing areas of consensus between them. On Afghanistan, Turkey had taken the lead in 2011 to begin the Istanbul Process to find meaningful and sustainable solutions to Afghanistan’s problems. The Istanbul Process culminated in the annual “Heart of Asia” regional conference on Afghanistan held in Kazakhstan’s former capital, Almaty, with both India and Turkey playing important roles. In the context of the planned 2014 withdrawal of NATO and US troops from Afghanistan, the need for Delhi and Ankara to intensify dialogue over Afghanistan has acquired a particular importance
Turkey has also emerged as a vital interlocutor in resolving important issues relevant to peace and security in the Middle East. In 2010, Turkey and Brazil negotiated a deal to enrich Iranian nuclear stockpiles abroad in a bid to stave off UN sanctions.
India’s progress in gaining importance in the global economy and international politics since the 1990s has led to Turkey’s quest to develop a new strategy for South Asia. Turkey has also begun to prioritize India in South Asian politics while preserving its traditionally good relations with Pakistan and Bangladesh. In recent years, the relations between the two countries have warmed due to common strategic goals, and there is a growing bilateral cooperation in the fields of education, technology and commerce.
The emergence of Turkey and India as regional powers has resulted in a shared interest in their respective capitals to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East and South Asia. In the context of the planned 2014 withdrawal of NATO and US troops from Afghanistan, the need for Delhi and Ankara to intensify dialogue over Afghanistan has acquired a particular importance.
For India, the Middle East is the most important source of crude oil as well as a crucial source of foreign remittances from Indian expatriates living in the Persian Gulf. The upheaval in the Arab world has been a key concern of Indian foreign policy, which in recent years has focused on creating an environment in its periphery that is conducive to its national development as well as to ensure access to raw materials and energy needed to power its economy.
The main reasons behind Modi’s ascent to power in India were economic in essence, stemming from high inflation, unemployment, slow growth, and rampant corruption. Above all, the high profile anti-corruption movement by social activists Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal came as a shot in Modi’s arms to win the poll.
Because the BJP is a Hindu nationalist party, in addition to the fact that 1,000 Muslims died in clashes between Hindus and Muslims under the previous provincial governorship of BJP leader Narendra Modi in Gujarat, 2014 general election results helping the BJP to win comfortable majority, caused worry among all ethnic and religious minorities. BJP leader PM Modi took the initiative to alleviate such concerns with the statements and a few actions, he not only relayed warm messages to India’s regional rivals China and Pakistan, but he also invited Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration ceremony. But sincerity is missing. Modi did not want to disrupt the traditional diplomacy followed by Congress-BJP governments.
Turkey is keen to expand cooperation in space technology with India. Ties between New Delhi and Ankara are strengthening. Moreover, the two countries are working to develop a common political agenda and economic policies under the umbrella of the G-20.
The Modi era unprecedentedly offers a fresh and great opportunity to reinvigorate the immense potential between these two countries to help resolve all regional tensions, including South Asia.
Indian strategists argue, rightly so, that India needs to improve its relations with Islamabad, as opposed to giving rise to further tensions with this most important neighbor, in order to promote bilateral ties with the Islamic world and in particular with the G-20 member countries such as Indonesia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia which harbor Muslim majorities. Likewise, in order to attract foreign capital and investment, he needs to preserve the harmony between coexisting ethnic and religious groups in India, including the large Muslim population in the country, within a democratic and multi-cultural framework. Mere rhetoric is not enough.
(A note on G20 summit in Turkey will be sent soon)