Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, suggested a multilateral dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue during an interview with WION news channel that he made on April 30, 2017, a few hours before departing for a two days official visit to India.
Erdoğan raised concerns on the Kashmir question between India and Pakistan by saying: “The relations between two nations are improving on a daily basis which makes me very happy. But this Kashmir question saddened us deeply. Because, I think, this is a question that upsets both countries. I believe sorting out the question, which has not been settled for up to 70 years, will provide a relief for both countries” and continued, “we should not allow more casualties to occur (in Kashmir). By having a multilateral dialogue, (in which) we can be involved, we can seek ways to settle the issue once and for all.”
The Turkish President said that it is in the interest of India and Pakistan that they should resolve this issue and not leave it for the future generations who will have to suffer. “All around the world, there is no better option than keeping the channel of dialogue open. If we contribute towards global peace, we can get a very positive result,” he said.
Replying to questions on the Kurdish problem in Turkey, he said it could not be compared with the Kashmir issue. “We have no problem with the Kurdish people. We have a problem with a terrorist organization … It (the Kurdish problem) is a territorial dispute. In Jammu and Kashmir, the situation is different. Let’s not make the mistake of comparing them.“
He also favoured India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) besides that of Pakistan, saying India should not have objection to it.
Responding to Erdoğan’s statements on Kashmir which is closely aligned to Pakistan’s position, India had played down proximity between Turkey and Pakistan, saying the government is aware that Turkey has a very close relationship with Pakistan and it is their bilateral matter. “We have always emphasised that India-Turkey relations stand on their own footing and, we believe, the Turkish side reciprocates our sentiment,” Smt. Ruchi Ghanashyam, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Ministry, said, adding that India’s position on the state of J&K is very well known that it is an integral part of the country.
However, she did not respond when asked if India will raise the issue.
The Kashmir issue is a very sensitive issue for both India and Pakistan which have fought three wars over Kashmir, including the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1947 and 1965, as well as the Kargil War in 1999.