Ankara and New Delhi are ‘compatible’ nations, says former Indian official

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Trade and investment are the most crucial areas of cooperation between Turkey and India as the two countries are “compatible nations”, a former Indian official said on Tuesday.

“We are compatible nations. But there is also a very distinct and very creative possibility of political understanding,” said MJ Akbar, who served as India’s deputy foreign minister.

“We are both democracies. We are both secular democracies. Both nations understand power and the need for security,” Akbar told Anadolu Agency (AA) in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

He said, however, that trade and investment would be the “most important” areas of cooperation in the bilateral relationship.

Bilateral trade between Turkey and India has reached over $10 billion annually.

On other fronts, Akbar said both countries “understand the curse of terrorism”.

“We understand that there is no cause that justifies terrorism. And that is a basic principle,” he said.

Calling nationalism “a partner in globalization”, Akbar said that “with so much in common (between Turkey and India), the future may, in fact, be significantly better than our very good past.” .

Regarding India’s purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia, Akbar said New Delhi was “very comfortable” as it had made its security concerns clear to its ” friends”.

“The Americans are our friends. The Americans are Turkey’s allies in NATO. But for us they are very good friends. But we have said that very clearly and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi has been at the forefront where India’s security and defense is concerned, there can be no compromise,” he said.

The United States sought to dissuade its allies, including Türkiye, from buying the Russian air defense system through the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). India is a major Washington ally in the Asia-Pacific region which, however, suffered little backlash over its purchase of the S-400.

Akbar said the U.S.-led Quad alliance was an “attempt to remind the world that freedom of movement on the seas is an absolute fundamental necessity for international trade.”

“The laws of the United Nations, which are still being drafted, will be the basis,” he said as part of the loose security group, which includes the United States, Japan, Australia and India.

Noting the lack of clarity in the laws of the sea, he identified space as the next challenge.

Akbar said the more UN member states cooperate to extend mutually beneficial regulations, “the better for life, for peace and for prosperity.”

The border agreement with China is “not fragile”

Regarding the border dispute between India and China, Akbar said that an agreement on the issue had so far eluded the two countries, “but what is very important is that as mature nations , we decided that we would not allow differences to turn into conflicts”.

“We will do our best to ensure that the dispute does not turn into a conflict,” he said.

“There’s an agreement, and it’s been going on for decades, that no bullets are fired across the border. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been tensions,” he said. added.

Since May 2020, India and China have been locked in a confrontation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – a de facto border between the two countries – in the Ladakh region of the disputed Jammu and Cashmere.

At least 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers were killed in a border clash in June 2020.

Tensions eased after several rounds of talks between the two sides.

“There were even casualties on both sides, unfortunately. But overall, the main thing held up,” Akbar said, adding that China and India were setting an “example” in handling border disputes.

“The agreement between the governments is not fragile, which is why whatever the power, the agreement held,” he added.

On calls for UN reform, Akbar said it was “essential if the UN is to survive”.

“The United Nations cannot have a Security Council made up of only the five victors of World War II.

“That world is long gone. There is a new world that exists,” he said, adding that the Security Council “no longer represents the real world.”

“Many other nations will have to find a place at the high table of the UN, which is the Security Council, for it to become effective,” he added.

Turkey was among the first nations to recognize India’s independence in 1947, opening a diplomatic mission the following year. India was among the first countries to express its condemnation of the military coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 and responded positively to Turkey’s security concerns over the activities of the terrorist group Güleniste (FETÖ).

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