On the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly in New York, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, as well as Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in two separate meetings.
B bThis comes at a time when Turkish President Recep Erdogan has taken an increasingly pro-Pakistan position on the Kashmir issue, aligning his country’s stance on the same with the talking points used by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to whip up anti-India sentiment and separatism.
Most recently, Erdoğan brought up Kashmir during his UN General Assembly speech as well, making statements widely seen to be aiding Pakistan’s aim of internationalising the issue.
Erdogan said “In order for the Kashmiri people to look at a safe future together with their Pakistani and Indian neighbors, it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, not through clashes,”
Referring to the abrogation of article 370 he said that the residents of Jammu and Kashmir are “virtually under blockade with 8 million people, unfortunately, unable to step outside of Kashmir,”
Modi’s decision to meet with the leaders of Armenia and Cyprus may be interpreted to be a hint to Erdogan that if he keeps pushing his country towards a pro-Pakistan stance, then India will respond.
Both Cyprus and Armenia are neighbouring countries of Turkey and have had strained relations historically. Armenians accuse Turkey of playing down the mass killings of Armenians during the early 20th century in the Ottoman Empire/Republic of Turkey.
Cyprus is called Europe’s last divided country with its capital being referred to as the last divided capital of the continent. The Mediterranean island country was invaded by Turkey in 1974 and led to the formation of “Northern Cyprus”, recognised only by Turkey. Turkey continues to retain its military presence in the region and has faced criticism for its actions by the United Nations Security Council.
In 1974 Cyprus was invaded by Turkey and violently partitioned between a Turkish Cypriot controlled Northern Cyprus and the rest of the island controlled by Greek Cypriots, with the latter being recognised by the international community.
PM Modi while meeting the Cypric President, reiterated India’s “consistent support for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of the Republic of Cyprus.”
Nicos Anastasiades speaking from UNGA said, “Turkey threatens Cyprus that there will be severe consequences if we proceed ahead with our energy programme… it threatens neighbouring states and energy companies, with which we are cooperating and have established conventional obligations”.
PM Modi also met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday.
After the meeting PM Modi Tweeted, India-Greece relations have stood the test of time. We will work to enhance trade as well as people-to-people relations for the benefit of our citizens.
Both leaders reviewed the state of bilateral relations and discussed steps to intensify political, economic and people to people exchanges.
Turkey and Greece have long had strained ties, and were close to military conflict over the Greek islets of Imia in 1996, before the US stepped in to avert disaster.
The uninhabited islets in the Aegean Sea, known as Kardak islets, or Imia in Greece, have been the subject of much friction between the two sides.
Greece and Turkey are also in a spat over Ankara threatening to explore for hydrocarbons in areas Greece claims as its own continental shelf.
Though Greece is smaller in size to Turkey, it spends a formidable amount of its budget on defence spending – seventh in the world at $1,230 per capita – and whose fighter pilots regularly engage in mock dogfights with invading Turkish jets.
Armenians too have not been able to forgive the genocide of millions of its nationals by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. The Turkish government has denied that a genocide ever took place.
Modi’s meetings with the leaders assumes significance, and is an apparent move to counter Ankara’s moves to side with Islamabad against India.
Now by extending support to the Cyprus openly from the very stage Erdogan issued his pro-Pakistani stand, India has made its diplomatic stand clear.
We have arrived on the world map. As leaders and norm makers, hence when there us a issue of national security and protecting of innocents, India stand is clearer than ever. No compromise or negotiation with the terrorist sympathizers.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth