Turkey and India do not need a reset - Turkish ambassador

Turkey and India do not need a diplomatic reset because partners can share opposing views, said the new Turkish ambassador to New Delhi in an exclusive interview with Indian news outlet The Print.

Fırat Sunel, the Turkish ambassador who began his duties earlier in July, played up the commonalities between Turkey and India as proof that the two can maintain good relations despite serious disagreements. He noted that the two were members of the G-20 bloc of nations which he said signifies a shared set of "fundamental common values such as democracy, rule of law and liberal economies”. 

“Turkey considers India as a friendly country which is of significant importance, on account of the latter’s location, human resources, vibrant economy and increasing critical role in the international arena…We don’t need to reset our ties…” Sunel said to The Print. He insists that Turkey and India do not require a reset and it should "open new horizons" instead. 

Turkey's relationship with India has remained mired in significant disagreements, particularly over the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir. The two regions are subject to a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan that dates back to the partition of the two countries following the end of British rule in 1947. 

In August 2019, India's Prime Minister Nahrenda Modi scrapped Article 370 that stripped Jammu and Kashmir of their autonomous status. Pakistan, an ally of Turkey, sharply criticised this move and it was joined in its condemnation by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He urged Modi to seek dialogue with Pakistan following the decision than seek a "collision".

Since then, Erdogan has spoken out against Indian policy on the issue, prompting rebuttals from New Delhi, who demand that Turkey keep itself out of Indian domestic affairs. 

Despite this tension, Turkey and India remain in contact over improving economic and trade ties. In April, India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Tajikistan where they talked about improvements in these realms. 

Sunel waved off past disagreements, saying that shared interests should take a larger priority in Turkey-India relations than disagreements.  He added that India is Turkey's largest trading partner in South Asia with close to $9 billion in bilateral trade volumes, eclipsing the $900 million in Turkish trade with Pakistan. 

To push for further improvements, Sunel expects that high level visits between Turkish and Indian officials will "resume soon”. Modi was last expected to visit Turkey in August 2019, but he cancelled his trip over disagreements related to Jammu and Kashmir.   


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