By Arul Louis
United Nations, Sep 20 : Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan brought up Kashmir in his address to the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, taking a seemingly neutral stance, only expressing hope for permanent peace there.
India and Pakistan, he said, “after having established their sovereignty and Independence 75 years ago, still haven’t established peace and solidarity between one another and this is much unfortunate”.
“We hope and pray that fair and permanent peace and prosperity will be established in Kashmir,” he added, avoiding internationalising it by even invoking UN resolutions.
The statement is closer to India’s stance that Kashmir is a bilateral issue because of the 1972 Simla agreement between the two countries and there is no room for a third party involvement.
India’s External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, is scheduled to meet Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu later on Tuesday.
Erdogan’s latest statement, unlike last year, did not mention UN resolutions on Kashmir, which India has said are irrelevant because of the commitment to bilateral solutions.
It is also vastly different from his inflammatory statements in previous years.
In 2020, he had called the Kashmir situation a “burning issue” and criticised the abolition of the special status for Kashmir.
In 2019, Erdogan had said that in the Indian Union Territory, “despite the resolutions (UN) adopted, Kashmir is still besieged and eight million people are stuck in Kashmir”.
The Kashmir issue reflects Pakistan’s isolation in the UN.
Last year, Turkey was the only country besides Pakistan to have brought up Kashmir in the 193-member UNGA — and this time Erdogan has avoided internationalising it.
Turkey, which had not been too keen on Security Council reforms, is now pressing for changes, perhaps with a view lobbying for a permanent seat on it to represent the Muslim bloc.
Erdogan said the UN will “have to become an international organization where a common will of the entire human race can be put forward, especially the Security Council has to be more effective, more democratic, more transparent, and more accountable”.
He presented Ankara as a peacemaker and a facilitator of dialogue in the Ukraine-Russia confrontation and elsewhere.
“We have been spending tremendous efforts in order to resolve conflicts from Europe to Latin America, from Africa to different geographies,” he said.
Erdogan also mentioned the plight of the Uyghurs, but in a manner sensitive to China’s interests.
“We are very sensitive towards the protection of the fundamental rights and the liberties of the Muslim Uyghur Turks in such a way that will never threaten the territorial integrity and sovereignty of China,” he said.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at email@example.com and followed at @arulouis)