It was May 1984 when legendary Indian leader Indira Gandhi told me in an exclusive interview in New Delhi "we believe in building a friendship with Turkey regardless of the differences."
Much has changed since those days in the Cold War period. India was a strong ally of the Soviet Union and a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and today New Delhi enjoys warm relations with the United States. India had shunned the free market economy but today it is one of the leading prospective developing economies of the world.
Turkey has become a shining star in its region and has put its house in order in such a way that the struggling Turkey of 1984 is today a prospering economy, a country that has a major say in the region.
India remains a leading democracy in Asia and Turkey proved its loyalty to democratic values when its people flocked into the streets to halt a bloody coup on July 15, 2016.
India is the seventh largest economy in the world while Turkey is the 17th. Both are members of the G20 group.
So all the conditions are ripe for rebuilding the friendly ties between Ankara and New Delhi that were started by the late Turgut Özal and late Rajiv Gandhi but then stalled in the 1990s. We have neglected each other for too long and in a new world it is time we rediscovered each other and established special relations.
Turkey's relations with India should be taken independently from its ties with long-time friend Pakistan. India has good ties with Armenia and the Greek Cypriots but that is also no obstacle for us to forge close ties with New Delhi. New Delhi has just hosted the Greek Cypriot president and is now preparing to welcome President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Sunday.
Turkey and India have much to offer to each other. Turkey has a well-established and thriving construction sector that builds successfully all over the world. Turkey has a strong manufacturing sector. India in return has a thriving IT industry, a massive space and aviation industry and a strong nuclear industry. Turkey's experiences coupled with India's capacity and potential in energy offers great opportunities for cooperation.
India's founding father Mahatma Gandhi established this country as the defender and protector of the oppressed, the needy and the deprived. Turkey today is doing exactly that under President Erdoğan. Turkey has not only opened its doors and cared for the Syrian migrants running away from Assad's cruelty for five years, spending $25 billion for them but it has also tended to the hungry and the deprived of Africa.
India wants a reformation of the international order and so does Turkey. President Erdoğan has said the world is bigger than five, which means Turkey opposes the veto power given to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council that generates international injustice rather than peace and tranquility. India should be welcome to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council provided the veto system is abandoned.
Beyond that, India has a Muslim population of 184 million, which is the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. The Muslims of India should be a bridge of affection and cooperation between Ankara and New Delhi. Turkey encourages Islam's principle of peaceful coexistence of various ethnic and religious groups in peace and harmony established by Prophet Muhammad.
President Erdoğan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now move ahead from where Özal and Rajiv Gandhi left off. Let us hope for the best.