The Government of India (GoI) has decided to put off a proposed visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Ankara, as a part of a number of measures showing its displeasure over Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan’s UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) speech last month where he criticised its move on Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to sources, the visit, which had been discussed when Mr. Modi met Mr. Erdogan in Osaka in June last, is unlikely to take place by year-end, as planned earlier. 

Ship-building deal

Official sources said India’s sharp criticism of Ankara’s military operations in Syria this week, as well as an “expected” decision to cancel the selection of Turkey’s Anadolu shipyard to build naval support ships for it followed its “unhappiness” over Turkey’s stand on Kashmir.

When asked, Ministry of External Affairs officials said no such visit by the Prime Minister was under discussion. However, Turkey’s Ambassador to India Şakir Özkan Torunlar told The Hindu that Mr. Modi’s visit was expected by his government.

“It is not just an expectation [PM Modi’s visit to Turkey]. It has been discussed recently, and we are now awaiting on alternative date proposals according to the PM Modi’s schedule in the next couple of months. The Government of India has to decide, but it certainly is being discussed, and we are awaiting dates from the South Block,” he said.

Official sources also confirmed to The Hindu that the $2.3 billion tender granted to Turkey’s Anadolu Shipyard earlier this year to help build five 45,000-tonne fleet support ships for the Hindustan Shipyard Limited is likely to cancelled. 

While the sources noted that rules for local procurement and security concerns over Anadolu’s work for the Pakistan navy were reasons for the likely cancellation, diplomatic sources said Turkey’s recent statements and its support for Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on terror financing were also considered.

When asked, the Turkish Ambassador said he hoped the tender is retained. “It is a commercial issue; so I don’t know what will happen. Whenever PM Modi has spoken to President Erdogan, he has spoken of his “Make in India” concept and his desire to build ‘Smart Cities’. So we would like to go ahead with the shipyard project and not put it aside,” Mr. Torunlar stated.