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Transcript of Media Briefing on visits from Cyprus and Turkey

April 27, 2017

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam: Members of the media, Namashkar. Good afternoon, a warm hello to all of you and thank you very much for coming.

This week we are having state visits from two foreign dignitaries. The President of the Republic of Cyprus, His Excellency Mr. Nicos Anastasiades is currently on a state visit to India from 25 – 29 April. He arrived in Mumbai on April 25. He is accompanied by four cabinet ministers and senior officials of Cyprus along with a sixty member business delegation.

From the Indian side Smt. Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare is the minister accompanying for the visit of the Cyprian President.

President Anastasiades arrived at Mumbai on 25 April, there he had a meeting with the Governor of Maharashtra on April 25 and addressed a business forum on 26 April. He came to Delhi yesterday evening i.e. 26 April. Today he addressed a business forum in the morning. In the evening he will deliver a talk at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

Tomorrow i.e. on the morning of 28 April, he will be given a ceremonial Guard of Honor at Rashtrapati Bhawan followed by a wreath laying by him at Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi at Rajghat. His other engagements tomorrow includes a meeting with Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji who will also host a banquet in the honor of President Anastasiades and delegation level talks with Prime Minister Modi.

President Anastasiades will confirm the award the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III on Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji during the meeting between the two dignitaries. The Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III is the highest ranked order of the Republic of Cyprus offered by the President of the Republic of Cyprus to Foreign Heads of State and Government.

Additionally External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj will call on President Anastasiades tomorrow. President Anastasiades will leave Delhi on the early morning of 29 April.

This is the first visit of the President Anastasiades to India. Earlier he had substantive meetings with the Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2015. From the Indian side, in recent times, Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji Smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil paid a state visit to Cyprus in October 2009.

India and Cyprus enjoy friendly and time tested ties. On many global issues both countries share similar views. India has extended unwavering support to the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Cyprus.

Cyprus supports India’s views on crucial multilateral issues such as the UN Security Council reforms and Nuclear Suppliers Group. Cyprus and India enjoy robust economic ties. Cyprus is a major investor in India with cumulative foreign direct investment of about USD 9 billion. Cyprus is the eighth largest foreign investor in India and has invested in areas such as financial leasing, stock exchange, auto manufacture, manufacturing industries, real estate, cargo handling, construction, shipping and logistics.

There is also scope for cooperation in sectors like pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, tourism and film production. Some agreements and MoUs are currently under negotiation and will be signed during the visit.

The President of the Republic of Turkey His Excellency, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be on a state visit to India from April 30 to May 1, 2017. He will be accompanied by Madam Erdoğan and some cabinet ministers of Turkey. Additionally, senior officials and a 150 member business delegation from Turkey will come to India for the visit.

From the India side, Shri Vijay Goel, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs & Sports, is the minister accompanying for the visit of the Turkish President.

President Erdoğan is scheduled to reach Delhi on 30 April. On the morning of May 1, he will be given the ceremonial Guard of Honor at Rashtrapati Bhawan followed by wreath laying by him at Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi at Rajghat.

His other engagements on that day includes delegation level talks with Prime Minister Modi and a meeting with Rashtrapati Ji, who will host a banquet in the honour of President Erdoğan. Additionally, Hon’ble Vice President will call on President Erdoğan. There will also be a call on President Erdoğan by External Affairs Minister.

An India-Turkey Business Forum meeting for the visiting Turkish businessmen and their Indian business counterparts will be organized during the visit of President Erdoğan. He will leave Delhi on the night of May 1. Detailed program is under finalization.

This is the second visit of President Erdoğan to India. Earlier he had visited India as Prime Minister in 2008. He also had a substantive meeting with Prime Minister Modi during Prime Minister’s visit to Antalya, Turkey in 2015 for the G20 Summit.

Other high level exchanges between the two sides in recent years are visit of the Turkish President Abdullah Gul in 2010, the visit of our Hon’ble Vice President Mohammad. Hamid Ansari to Turkey in 2011 and the visit of Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji, Shri Pranab Mukherjee to Turkey in 2013.

India and Turkey enjoy close, friendly and deep rooted ties dating back to several centuries. There are rich historical and cultural connections between the two countries in the field of art and architecture. Diplomatic relations between India and Turkey go back to over 70 years. Regular high level exchanges have strengthened our bilateral ties. Both India and Turkey have been battling terrorism for long and understand the need for acting against this global menace.

Turkey and India enjoy strong economic ties. Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at USD 6.4 billion. India’s main export products to Turkey are textiles and fabrics, chemical, pharmaceuticals, plastic products, machinery and automotive. There is scope for cooperation in other areas such construction, infrastructure development, renewable energy, tourism and film shooting.

A number of Indian companies have established their presence in Turkey through production facilities or project participation. Some agreements and MoUs are currently under negotiation between the two countries and will be signed during the visit. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Thank you very much Ma’am on briefing on both the visits. We will now open the floor for questions.

Question: The question is regarding Turkish President Visit. Will we be raising Turkey’s incessant support to Pakistan stand on Kashmir, will it come for discussion?

Question: What is the stand of Turkish leadership on India’s bid for NSG?

Question: I understand we have some issues with China because they have some infrastructure projects in the Pakistan side of Kashmir and there are similar infrastructure projects by Turkey also. Post 2005 it was Turkey who actually built the city of Muzaffarabad. So will this issue be also taken up with Turkey?

Question: President of Cyprus has requested India’s assistance for resolving the Northern Cyprus issue. Since the President of Turkey will be visiting next week, would India be raising this issue with the Turkish President?

Question: Is it a coincidence that the President of Turkey and the President of Cyprus are here within 24 hours of each other, if so what is India’s official position on the divided state that the entire island of Cyprus is in?

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam: We are aware that Turkey has very close relationship with Pakistan. This is their bilateral matter.

We have always emphasized that India-Turkey relations stand on their own footing and, we believe, the Turkish side reciprocates our sentiment.

As for what we will raise and what will come up is a matter of speculation and I will not get into that.

(On mediation) Two leaders (Note:- our PM and President of Cyprus) will meet and discuss issues that they decide to discuss. I would not like to prejudge or speculate. However our position on the Cyprus issue is very clear and well known. I don’t need to reiterate it.

On the timing of the visit, the dates of visits are decided as per the convenience of leaders on both sides.

On the Cyprus issue, we understand that the two sides in Cyprus have been talking to each other. India hopes that a just and lasting solution will be found to the Cyprus problem in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and the European Acquis. We support a peaceful dialogue between the concerned parties.

On NSG we remain engaged with turkey and on projects in PoK, I think our position on the state of Jammu and Kashmir is very well known and all of you I think know it well that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the territory of India. Our position on CPEC is also well known.

Question: About a year back when this attempted coup took place in Turkey, they had blamed Fethullah Gulen for the attempted coup and they had claimed that there were some schools operating in India which were part of this network and at that time the MEA had said that they were looking into it and they would gather the facts and discuss it with Turkey. So what is the status of that?

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam: Well, after the coup, if you recall our Hon'ble PM had called President Erdogan telephonically and since considering that we are a democratic country, it hardly needs be said where our sympathy and support lie in such cases.

On Gulen, the Turkish side has raised this issue with us in the past and we have noted their concern.

Question: Turkish President’s advisor Mr. Ilnoor Cevik who is already in town, he told during an interaction that if India applies for the OIC membership then Turkey is willing to support. So now the question is, Is India willing to be a member of OIC because he has pointed out India’s vast Muslim population as one of the qualifying criterion. So I would like to know what your response to that is.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: If I may answer on behalf of Secretary (West), I would say is in the realm of speculation, so let us leave it at that.

With this we conclude the first part. Thank you very much Secretary (West), the High Commissioner and our colleague and friend Mr. Bhattacharjee.

(Concludes)

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