– World Window
– Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s love for Pakistan has not waned despite India’s generous help during the earthquake in Turkey. Erdoğan once again raised the Kashmir issue at the UN
India launched this operation and sent aid when Turkey-Syria suffered a devastating earthquake in February. India was among the countries that immediately announced aid after the earthquake. As a result of the emergency, the National Disaster Response Team, medical team, army personnel were sent to Turkey-Syria for relief and rescue operations. India sent many essential items from blankets to food packets, grains, clothes. For that, the foreign ministry of both the countries thanked India.
Turkey’s Erdoğan government’s stance has been pro-Pakistan. Turkey has blindly supported Pakistan on issues like Kashmir, but the decision to provide immediate assistance created a distinctly noble image of India among Turkish citizens. India was hailed as the savior in the Turkish media. This initiative of India made the common citizens of Turkey look at India and Indians with respect. Impressed by the Indian army hospital that saved hundreds of lives, many young people from Turkey became volunteers in hospitals in India. He used to praise the Indian army a lot.
Despite this much help from India, the ambassador of Turkey supported Pakistan on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in the UN Human Rights Council in March-2023. The same history has been repeated for six months. Turkish President Erdoğan supported Pakistan by raising the issue of Kashmir in the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly. While addressing the global leaders, Erdoğan said: ‘Kashmir issue should be resolved in a just manner through dialogue and cooperation between India and Pakistan. It will establish peace in South Asia. It is unfortunate that India-Pakistan has not been able to establish peace even after 75 years of independence.’
India has always been opposed to third-party interference in its relations with Pakistan. Pakistan continues to demand that the border dispute be resolved without foreign interference. Erdoğan’s statement meant the same. India’s stand in the India-Pakistan border dispute has been clear for years: ‘The entire Kashmir is a part of India and India will not compromise on it.’ America initially grumbled about this apparent attitude of India. Many presidents also said that America is ready for mediation, but now countries including America are supporting India on the issue. Even after the removal of Article 370 from Kashmir, no country including the US raised an uproar and tacitly agreed to India’s decision. Pakistan does not get the support of any veto-holding country except China.
But Turkey has already supported Pakistan against India in this regard. Even on the issue of removing 370, Erdoğan was wise and called it a completely unacceptable step. Erdoğan has ambitions to be the messiah of Muslim countries. For the past 20 years, Erdoğan has been in absolute power in Turkey. In 2001, he founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and won a majority in the 2002 parliamentary elections. Erdoğan became the Prime Minister for the first time in 2003. He was elected in the next three elections and retained the post of Prime Minister till 2014. Became president in 2014. He was re-elected to the presidency in 2018. In this year’s election, Pawan ran in opposition and Erdogan was elected despite a strong challenge from opposition leader Kemal Kalchdarloo. Turkey’s Pakistan policy is unlikely to change as long as Erdogan is in power.
India has made many efforts to strengthen bilateral relations with Turkey over the years. The latest attempt was to launch Operation Dosti when the earthquake finally struck. India provided strong support after the earthquake on humanitarian grounds, but Erdogan’s attitude has not changed at all. This is the second time in a week that Erdogan has been sidelined. Before Pakistan opposed India by showing love in the UN General Assembly, Erdoğan also blocked India’s new economic corridor. By making India Middle East-Europe Corridor, India will become powerful, bilateral trade with India up to Europe will increase, China’s Silk Road will have equal competition.
One possible route of India’s new economic corridor also passes through Turkey. The centuries-old Spice Route emanated from many countries, with Turkey being an important stop. Turkey is geographically important as it connects and is the gateway to Asia-Europe. Until the discovery of the waterway, the Turkish route was key to India’s pepper-spice trade. If India revives the Spite Route, one of its routes may go through Turkey. As per the plan, the corridor will have two lanes. An Eastern Corridor will be formed, passing through the Gulf countries. Another corridor will emerge from the north. If that route connects the Gulf countries with Europe, it has to include Turkey.
India’s announcement of this corridor at the G-20 summit hurt Erdogan’s ego. The President of Turkey gave a statement against the corridor and said: ‘This corridor is not possible without us. Turkey is situated on a land that forms a bridge between Europe and Asia. India’s corridor cannot move forward without Turkey.’
India’s possible second route would not include Turkey. After connecting Dubai by sea from Mumbai, the goods reach Saudi by road or train. From Saudi Arabia by train or road through Israel, the goods again reach Europe by sea via Greece. Turkey is not required anywhere in this route. The fact that India sidelines Turkey and develops a new corridor makes Erdogan sick to his stomach. Turkey dominates the Mediterranean Sea. Asia-Europe trade is booming in this way. At present, large cargo ships pass through Turkish waters and this keeps Turkey important. There are also financial benefits. India’s corridor will pass through Israeli waters on the way to the Mediterranean Sea. It creates an alternative to Turkey. Turkey’s strategic position is weakened.
Well, that’s why the Turkish president expressed displeasure about the Economic Corridor and went to the UN just the other week to rant about Kashmir. No matter how much India helps, whether Erdoğan’s attitude will change will always remain a big question. No matter how hard we try, will the crooked question ever be straightened?