By Zehra Nur Duz
ANKARA (AA) - The Indian Embassy in Turkey on Sunday celebrated the country's 71st Republic Day with a reception in the capital Ankara.
The event hosted by Vanaja K. Thekkat, charge d’Affairs of the Indian embassy, was attended by senior Turkish officials, diplomats and the Indian community.
Sedat Onal, Turkey’s deputy foreign minister, in his speech, congratulated the people and government of India on the occasion.
“India is a key actor in the global scene and an important partner for Turkey,” he said.
Onal stressed that the “rising trends in economic and commercial cooperation” between Turkey and India, cultural relations, as well as increasing “people to people contacts” are contributing toward further strengthening bilateral relations.
Speaking about Turkey's initiative Asia Anew, he said: “India has a special place in this overture.”
He noted that the trade volume between the two countries had increased from $500 million in 2000 to $17.1 billion in 2019.
Onal also underlined that Turkish tourists to India have recently been on the rise.
As for the Indian case, compared to last year, there has been a 56% increase in the number of Indian tourists visiting Turkey, Onal said, which rounds up to 200,000 tourists in 2019.
Thekkat said: “We recorded great pride to the vision of our forefathers to draft a constitution by which India became a democratic secular republic, where equality, liberty, thought and expression, among others are fundamental rights of every citizen.”
“Considering the short span of its independent existence, India has made rapid progress in education, science and technology, information technology, healthcare, peaceful uses of outer space and renewable energy,” she added.
Thekkat underlined that India is “the largest democracy” and “one of the fastest growing major economies of the world”.
Underlining that India is the “country of Gandhi”, Thekkat said India believes in “peaceful coexistence” and practices this policy in international relations.
Highlighting that bilateral trade between two countries has grown rapidly, she added: “India is one of the top trading partners of Turkey”.
Both Onal and Thekkat conveyed their condolences for the victims of Friday's powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey that has left 35 people dead and more than a thousand injured.
The national anthems of India and Turkey were played and guests were served Indian food at the event.
Jan. 26 was chosen as the Republic day because it was on this day in 1929, that India's freedom icon Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi demanded completed independence from the British colonial powers. India became independent in 1947.