New Delhi, May 1: India and Turkey on Monday agreed to boost bilateral trade from the current level of just over $6 billion and expressed the resolve to fight the global menace of terrorism together.
“President and I are clear that the strength of our economies presents an enormous opportunity to expand and deepen commercial linkages between our countries,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, jointly addressing the media with Turkish President Recep Tayyip here after delegation-level official talks.
The Prime Minister said that at the level of the two governments, “we need to approach the entire landscape of business opportunities in a strategic and long-term manner”.
“India and Turkey are two large economies,” he stated.
“Our bilateral trade turnover of around $6 billion does not do full justice to convergences in our economies. Clearly, the business and industry on both sides can do much more.”
Modi invited Turkish businesses to tap the “diverse and unique opportunities”, including infrastructure requirements and Smart Cities programme, available in India.
“We would like to encourage stronger partnership of Turkish companies with our flagship programmes and projects, either on their own or in collaboration with the Indian companies,” he said.
On the issue of terrorism, the Prime Minister said that he had an extensive conversation with President Erdogan on this, and added that both of them agreed that “no intent or goal, no reason or rationale can validate terrorism”.
“The nations of the world, therefore, need to work as one to disrupt the terrorist networks and their financing and put a stop to cross-border movement of terrorists,” he said.
“They also need to stand and act against those that conceive and create, support and sustain, shelter and spread these instruments and ideologies of violence.”
Modi said that he and Erdogan “agreed to work together to strengthen our cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to effectively counter this menace”.
The two leaders also discussed the need for comprehensive reforms in the UN, including the Security Council expansion, “to make the body more representative accountable and effective”.
“Both of us recognise the need for the UN Security Council to reflect the world of the 21st century and not of the century gone by,” Modi stated.
Turkey’s position on India’s bid for permanent membership in the UN Security Council is different.
Turkey is a member of a group of countries called Uniting for Consensus (UfC) that is opposed to expansion of permanent seats in the Security Council.
On his part, Erdogan said that Turkey would always be by the side of India “in full solidarity” in battling terrorism.
“Terrorist organisations want to launch their propaganda over the suffering of people and are willing to a create future for themselves out of victims’ pain,” he said.
He said that he and Modi also discussed the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July last year in which over 300 people, both civilians and security personnel, lost their lives.
The Turkish government has blamed the US-based preacher and political activists Fethullah Gulen for the coup attempt.
Erdogan expressed hope that India would expel all institutions linked to FETO — or the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation that Turkish authorities describe the Gulenist network as.
Stating that the current bilateral trade volume of just over $6 billion was “not enough for us”, he called for increasing this figure to at least $10 billion.
“We have discussed cooperation in the areas of energy cooperation and infrastructure development,” the Turkish President said.
He also said that the frequency of flights between the two countries should be increased to help businessmen on both sides.
Following Monday’s talks, the two sides signed three agreements, including a cultural exchange programme, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Foreign Services Institute of India and the Diplomacy Academy of Turkey, and another MoU on information and communication technologies.
Earlier in the day, Erdogan was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on the Turkish President and discussed issues of bilateral interest.
Modi and Erdogan then addressed a business summit organised by industry organisations CII, Ficci and Assocham, at which both leaders called for boosting India-Turkey trade and economic ties.
Erdogan arrived here on Sunday on a two-day visit to India. He last visited India in 2008 when he was the Prime Minister.