Modi's blunt message to Turkey

In a blunt message to Turkey, which has endorsed Pakistan’s aggressive stand on J&K, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met leaders of its rivals — Greece, Cyprus and Armenia — before starting for home from the United States.

Soon after his address to UN General Assembly, Modi met Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and wrested the latter’s northern part which was proclaimed to be an independent entity, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

During his meeting with Anastasiades, Modi “reiterated India’s consistent support for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Republic of Cyprus”, a position which is certain to infuriate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has sided with Pakistan.

Modi also met Kyriakos Mitsotakis, PM of Greece which is locked in a bitter dispute with Turkey over who should control islets in Aegean Sea. Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, which holds Turkey responsible for genocide of lakhs of its nationals, was another leader who met Modi.

Senior sources in the government made it clear that the three meetings were designed to send a message to Erdogan about India’s resentment and its determination not to brook any opposition to the stand about J&K being an “internal matter”. The stern message was amplified when India attacked China, another ally of Pakistan, over China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The twin retaliations also make it clear that Modi’s decision not to mention J&K or Pakistan in his UNGA address has to do with a tactical calculation not to engage in a verbal fracas with Imran Khan. It reflected the confidence of a leader who has emerged stronger after the Lok Sabha polls, the second consecutive win fortifying his conviction about a groundswell for his “no compromise-on -national security” plank.

The Prime Minister highlighted his improved numbers at the “Howdy Modi” event at Houston, where he also emphasised the two-thirds parliamentary support for his decisions on J&K, and at UNGA-the purpose clearly being to convey unequivocally that the changes in the border state were “offlimits” for the international community. Instead of scuffling with Khan, Modi chose to take the higher diplomatic ground focusing on contemporary global concerns like climate change, terrorism and public health.

The “when they go low, we go high” playbook saw the Prime Minister invoking Gandhi and Buddha and helped his efforts to stay away from the fray personally.

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