The relationship between Turkey and India has been growing through numerous high-level contacts, a Turkish lawmaker said, highlighting long-established relations and historic connections between two countries.
"President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have very good relations and high-level exchanges," said Efkan Ala, a former minister and head of the Turkey-India Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group, in a program at the Indian Embassy in Ankara, adding that Turkey considers India a "friend and important partner."
Stressing that Turkey is keen to tap the existing potential in its bilateral ties with India and in international and multinational cooperation, Ala said India has a huge market with an outstanding knowledge of space technology, rich human resources and a deep-rooted historical and cultural heritage.
"Turkey and India are two democratic, plural states with liberal economies and two open societies. These are very important values," he said. "As a matter of fact, there is a broad correlation between sustainable development and democratic ideology." Ala also said the growing relationship between Turkey and India has the possibility to make the two countries major players in regional and global issues. Ankara and New Delhi aim to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2020, which stood at $8.6 billion in 2018. The number of touristic exchanges between the two countries has also significantly increased during recent years. According to the Culture and Tourism Ministry, around 147,127 Indian tourists visited Turkey last year, up from 86,996 in 2017 and 79,316 in 2016.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, Indian Ambassador to Turkey Sanjay Bhattacharyya said the Turkish government is releasing a set of commemorative stamps to honor Mahatma Gandhi.
"We are working with the Turkish Foreign Ministry on the installation of a bust of MK Gandhi in Ankara," he said.
Referring to the historic relations between the then Indian subcontinent and what is now Turkey, Bhattacharyya mentioned how medical missions from the region, including one led by Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, known as Dr. MA Ansari in India, had participated in the Balkan wars.
Touching on bilateral relations, the Indian ambassador said the frequent contact between the leaders of the two countries "has brought about a very close understanding" and they recently met in Osaka, Japan on the sidelines of the G20 summit in June.