by on 27 April 2017

Indian diplomacy is in for a tough diplomatic balancing act this week, playing host to the Turkish and Cypriot presidents while Vice-President Hamid Ansari is visiting Armenia.

Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus, and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be the single largest obstacle to the reunification of Cyprus (Northern Cyprus is under Turkish control).

Ankara shows little inclination to remove over 30,000 of its troops stationed on the island. Vice-President Hamid Ansari is currently visiting Armenia whose relations with Turkey are even worse, stuck on the great Armenian genocide.

Between 1915 and 1917, the then Ottoman government allegedly exterminated 1.5 million Armenians.

On Tuesday, Ansari visited the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex in Yerevan, where he paid homage to the dead, placing India among those nations which agree with Pope Francis I that it was the first genocide of the 20th century. On April 30, PM Narendra Modi hosts the Turkish president, who has just won a referendum that has strengthened him with additional powers.

New Delhi hopes that it will be able to change Ankara’s mind on supporting its NSG membership bid, while also enhancing bilateral economic partnership.

The engagements have kept the foreign office on its toes, especially in a part of the world where fragile geopolitics has a great bearing on ties.

To mark India’s 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties with Armenia, Ansari’s visit will be reciprocated by that of Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan later this year.

India is currently playing host to Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades, who arrived in Mumbai on April 25 on a five-day visit. On April 27, he will address a business forum and thinktank in the capital.

Anastasiades is to hold delegation-level talks with PM Modi and sign several bilateral agreements. Cyprus has long been close to India, since the days of President Makarios, including positioning itself as a gateway for Indian exports to the European market.

Cyprus used its EU position to block several chapters of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, which have now hit a dead end. Anastasiades and his northern counterpart Mustafa Akinci have a very tough task to reunify. Turkey could hold the key, but the strong winds of nationalism sweeping Turkey right now, which brought Erdogan back into power, may be a hurdle.

Indiatimes –   Indrani Bagchi