The failed coup targeting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is unlikely to have any long-term impact on bilateral relations or the miniscule Indian community in Istanbul and Ankara, though it could have an immediate impact on holiday-makers who have begun shunning Turkey after a string of terror attacks.
India and Turkey have historic connections dating back to the 15th century but diplomatic ties in the modern era have seen numerous ups and downs, as Ankara’s close partnership with Islamabad has often come in the way of stronger ties with New Delhi.
Turkey, which often voted against India on the Kashmir issue at the UN, has made some efforts in recent years to balance its ties with India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the G20 Summit in Antalya last November and held a bilateral meeting with President Erdogan while foreign minister Sushma Swaraj travelled to Turkey in January 2015.
However, there has been steady growth in bilateral trade, with the balance largely in India’s favour, and a significant increase in Indian tourists visiting Turkey, though the numbers dipped following a string of high-profile terror attacks this year blamed on Kurdish militants and the Islamic State.
Bilateral trade rose from $500 million in 2000 to $7 billion in 2013, making India Turkey’s 13th largest trade partner. Turkey also ranks 41st in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows to India. According to the Turkish Statistical Institution, Turkey’s imports from India during January-November 2015 were $5.11 billion, while its exports to India in the same period were $606.8 million.
Major Indian exports include medium oils and fuels, man-made filaments and staple fibres, automobile spare parts and accessories, and organic chemicals. Turkey’s exports include poppy seeds, machinery and mechanical appliances, iron and steel goods, inorganic chemicals, pearls and precious or semi-precious stones, and metals and marble.
More than 150 Indian companies have a presence in Turkey, including Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Reliance, Ispat, Aditya Birla Group, Wipro and Dabur.
A consortium formed by Nas Aviation Services India and Turkish airport ground services provider Celebi won a tender to provide ground services for 10 years at Mumbai international airport. Turkish infrastructure company Fernas, mainly operating in the pipeline sector, bagged a contract for laying a segment of the GAIL pipeline in Gujarat.
The number of Indian tourists visiting Turkey has increased at the rate of almost 20% a year from 55,000 in 2009 to nearly 150,000 last year, before dropping sharply this year after a string of terror attacks, including one on Istanbul airport.
Turkey is also home to 200 to 250 Indians, mostly professionals working in business establishments and universities in Istanbul and Ankara and their families.