Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih today described Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as one of giants of South Asian history, saying he secured a permanent room in hearts of all who aspires for democracy and freedom.
"He (Bangabandhu) is one of the giants of South Asian history, whose actions were pivotal in securing an independent destiny for the people of Bangladesh," Solih said as he joined the grand opening of Bangladesh founder's birth centenary and country's Independence golden jubilee celebrations at the National Parade Ground.
Solih said the Bangladesh founder would "always have an honoured place in the hearts of those who yearn for democracy and freedom".
The Maldivian president who joined as the first of five South Asian leaders to join the 10-day celebration recalled that throughout his life Bangabandhu was an "uncompromising advocate" of democracy and political freedoms.
"He championed those values, often in powerful words, that resonated with people from all walks of life. His six-point programme laid the foundation for Bangladesh's independence and provided the underlying values of the country's constitution," Solih said.
The Maldivian leader particularly noted that Bangabandhu's March 7, 1971 speech as a testament to his "skill and monumental historic standing", that "effectively declared" Bangladesh's independence for which UNESCO recorded it as the Memory of the World Register as documentary heritage.
"Despite the tragic circumstances of his death, his legacy will not be forgotten," Solih said.
He congratulated Bangladesh for the remarkable work that uplifted lives of its people and developing the country adding "the pace of economic development in Bangladesh has been remarkable".
Solih thanked Bangladesh government for its gestures towards the Maldives development "with respect to our formal bilateral engagements, and the care and concern you have shown for the resident Maldivian community in Bangladesh".
"The Maldives is grateful for the friendship we enjoy with the people of Bangladesh, which has helped us to endure the many challenges that we confront because of the virus. We are immeasurably grateful for the grant assistance of food, personal protective equipment and medical supplies," he said.
He said Bangladesh recently made an extremely generous move by sending a team of healthcare professionals from Bangladeshi Air Force to help-build up the Maldives' health response.
"This is in addition to the medical team that visited the Maldives last year. The Maldives is extremely grateful for this decision, and acknowledges it as symbolic of the strong relations between our two countries," Solih said.
The Maldivian president called Bangladesh-Maldives cooperation "extensive" adding "we rely on your support for human resource development in various fields, in particular health and medicine".
He said as low lying countries in the Indian Ocean, climate change appeared as an urgent mutual priority for both the countries.
"The Maldives commends Bangladesh for the leading role it played in the Climate Vulnerable Forum and for its efforts to develop a Blue Economy – a goal that we share in common," Solih.
He expressed his country's keenness for continued cooperation to address the existential threats posed by climate change.
Solih said Bangladeshis currently comprised one of the biggest expatriate workforces in the Maldives.
"Their contribution to the socio-economic development of our country is immeasurable," he said.