‘India along Bosphorus’ to boost ties with Turkey

Dunya Executive - - BUSINESS -

In a bid to boost the bilateral relations between the two countries, the Indian Embassy in Ankara is preparing to host mega-cultural shows, “India along the Bosphorus”, across Turkey in 2019.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of “World Hindi Day”, celebrated at Ankara University on January 10, India’s Ambassador to Turkey, Sanjay Bhattacharyya, said the two countries enjoy a “very old civilizational connection.”

“The festival will showcase the most outstanding features of our culture and civilization,” he said, adding that the inaugural function will be organized in March followed by different events scheduled to be held across Turkey in April.

Bhattacharyya said that the two countries are also working to boost their trade ties. “When my Prime Minister met President Erdogan during latter’s visit to India, they set a target of $10 billion in trade volume between our two countries by 2020,” he said.

Turkey and India’s bilateral trade volume reached $8 billion in the first 11 months of 2018, up from $7 billion in all of 2017, according to the Turkish trade minister.

“When we can achieve this target set by our leaders; we will double it and do much better over the next five years,” the ambassador added. Describing Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan’s visit to India in December as “extremely significant,” Bhattacharya said it allowed “high-level exchange” and provided opportunities for the two sides to meet business groups from both countries. Referring to the bilateral trade agreement signed by India and Turkey in the 1950s, he stated that the two sides had done “preliminary” work toward signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) over the last decade.

“There has been confirmation from both sides that they would like to work on the commencement of FTA negotiations and I’m confident that we would be able to conclude the FTA very rapidly because there is very strong interest on both sides,” he said.

The Indian ambassador noted that at least 30 Indian companies were working in Turkey in the chemicals, automotive, machin- ery, pharmaceutical and construction sectors.

“One of the lead contractors in TANAP [Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline] is Indian,” he said, adding a handful of Turkish companies are operating in construction, glass manufacturing, and the service and logistics sectors in India.

However, the Indian ambassador noted that the educational exchanges between India and Turkey are “not at a very high level”.

“But I have met with the (Turkish) minister for education, and we look forward to concluding an MoU on cooperation in education which will involve not only the exchange of students and faculties but also bridging institutions,” the ambassador added.

He said Turkish literature is being taught at many Indian education institutions and it is the same in Turkey as Indian civilization studies are being taught in several institutes, including the 80-year-old Department of Indology, which hosted the World Hindi Day program at Ankara University.

Earlier, speaking at the event, Bhattacharyya said: “We are planning to hold a regional Hindi language literary conference in Ankara with an aim to spread the language which has received recognition at the international level.”

Praising Turkey’s “tremendous development” in the defense sector, Bhattacharya said India and Turkey have “very close political and security engagement […] we conduct counterterrorism dialogue and have exchanged notes as well.” Earlier during the program, Turkish students read Hindi stories and poems written by the wellknown Kabir and Sohan Lal. The main attraction of the World Hindi Day function was the short play, Magical Twigs, which revisited the wisdom of Birbal in the Mughal era under Akbar the Great.

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