Press Statements

Jamia Millia Islamia confers honorary doctorate on the Turkish President

New Delhi: Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Turkey,was conferred with the Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) today in an impressive special convocation function by Jamia Millia Islamia here for “his contribution to strengthen international cooperation, peace and diplomacy as well as for his extraordinary humanitarian aid to millions of refugees.”

Turkish President with JMI Chancellor Lt. Gen. (Retd.) M A Zaki, Vice Chancellor, Prof Talat Ahmad, Pro Vice Chancellor, Prof Shahid Ashraf and Registrar, A P Siddiqui
Turkish President with JMI Chancellor Lt. Gen. (Retd.) M A Zaki, Vice Chancellor, Prof Talat Ahmad, Pro Vice Chancellor, Prof Shahid Ashraf and Registrar, A P Siddiqui

The degree was conferred by JMI Chancellor, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Mr. M. A. Zaki. Vice Chancellor, Prof Talat Ahmad read out the citation and said that when talking about Indo-Turkish relations, Jamia Millia Islamia's role was hard to ignore given that some of the legendary founders of the university, like Dr. M. A. Ansari, were the very people who led the Indian Medical Mission to Turkey to treat Ottoman soldiers wounded in the 1912-13 Balkan Wars.  

President Erdogan said that he was delighted to accept the honorary doctorate degree from a university which has played a significant role not only in India’s freedom movement but also in the way it supported the Khilafat Movement in the 1920s and stood by the Turkish people and its founders. Citing the commonality and familiarity between the Indian and Turkish cultures, he said that “culture and education” were potential areas which could take the relationship between both countries to the next level.

He strongly advocated for India’s membership of the UN Security Council and said that the international order cannot be called just till India’s 1.3 billion people were given representation in the world body.

Criticising the current structure of the UNSC as arbitrary, he said that it was set up to address the crisis emanating from the Second World War but now that situation has changed drastically. It therefore requires thorough restructuring to address the current geo-political reality of the world. “Only five permanent members of the Council are deciding the fate of the entire world which is not fair”, he added.

President Erdogan said that the Council must ensure that it gives voice and representation to India which is inhabited by 1.3 billion people.

Talking about terrorism, the Turkish President said that the menace has to be fought collectively and it was unfair to associate it with any one specific religion. He said that indulging in acts of terrorism in the name of Islam was nothing but blasphemy. He particularly named ISIS and Al Qaeda in this context.

President Erdogan said that since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Turkey has opened its doors to the refugees from the neighbouring country. He said that the international community also has a responsibility to do something for them. Turkey has made a conscientious effort to help them as “we should not become tyrants” by becoming indifferent to the sufferings of others.

The President, who earlier in the day had talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, described their meeting as “very fruitful”. He said that Turkey was keen to expand trade and commercial ties with India as the volume of trade was yet to reach its actual potential.

Vice-Chancellor of JMI, Prof Ahmad who is himself an eminent Earth Scientist, urged the President to support the university in research and teaching in Earthquake Risk Management for which some Turkish universities are internationally known.

The Registar, Mr. A. P. Siddiqui who conducted the proceedings of the special convocation expressed his gratitude to His Excellency, President of Turkey, for “graciously accepting the degree” and hoped that his gesture of accepting the degree would go a long way in further strengthening the ties between India and Turkey. 

The Special Convocation was attended among others by a 90-member-strong Turkish delegation accompanying the President, H.E. Turkish Ambassador to India, Mr. Şakir Özkan Torunlar, Saudi Ambassador H.E. Saud Mohammad Al-Sati, officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, heads of various diplomatic missions in Delhi, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof Shahid Ashraf, OSD to VC Prof Sharfuddin Ahmad, Deans, Heads, Directors, faculty members and students of Jamia Millia Islamia.