Mutual Economic Interests Drive Warming India-Turkey Ties

Mutual Economic Interests Drive Warming India-Turkey Ties

At a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid in Ankara last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described Khurshid’s visit to Turkey—the first by an Indian foreign minister in 10 years—as “historic.” The visit can be seen as part of an effort to visibly raise the profile of India-Turkey relations, which have been characterized by steadily expanding common ground on the geoeconomic front. India is now Turkey’s second-largest Asian trading partner, and Turkey is seeking more bilateral high-level exchanges as a precursor to expanded people-to-people contacts. For India, whose president will visit Turkey in the coming months, closer ties with Turkey provide it with a strong G-20 partner to enlarge New Delhi’s energy and trade interests in central Eurasia.

Photo: Indian Foreign Minister Salman Kurshid, May 26, 2011 (photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 ).

An immediate purpose of Khurshid’s visit was to secure Turkish support for India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Direct dialogue between Khurshid and Davutoglu was seen as the best way to accomplish this, and it appears that Turkey and India may reach an agreement soon: During the joint press conference, Davutoglu said that Turkey does not object to India’s membership in the NSG but has concerns related to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He added, however, that “Turkey and India had decided to work together in order to realize India’s membership in the NSG.”

India has in the past supported Turkey’s joint efforts with Brazil to mediate the diplomatic standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. More generally, India and Turkey are likely to coordinate more closely in the future on developments in the Middle East and South Asia regions, which they bookend. Meanwhile, as India looks to boost its economic presence in Central Asia, it will seek to leverage Turkey’s influence with countries such as Turkmenistan to support its efforts.

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