- Bangladesh's "Blue Economy" campaign inspires Sri Lanka on maritime approach
- The two countries may ink five MoUs on trade, investment, agriculture and shipment
- Bangladesh, the Maldives signed four MoUs during the Maldivian president's Dhaka visit
- Nepalese president, Bhutanese and Indian prime ministers will also join Bangabandhu's birth centenary celebrations
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has laid emphasis on establishing South Asia as one of the most prosperous regions of the world through concerted efforts.
"I call upon the political leaders and policymakers of South Asia – let us work together to build a peaceful and prosperous South Asia," she said on Friday, the third day of the celebrations of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's Independence.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa joined the event at the National Parade Ground in Dhaka as guest of honour.
The Bangladesh premier noted that although there was no abundance of resources in South Asia – home to about a quarter of the world's population — people here had incredible spirit, innovative potentials and unmatched resilience against all natural adversaries.
"If we work together for the betterment of our people, South Asia will surely be one of the most prosperous regions in the world," Sheikh Hasina added.
Terming Sri Lanka as a close friend, Sheikh Hasina said, "Bangladesh and Sri Lanka share similar positions on various regional and international issues, while both the countries used to cooperate and support each other's causes."
She described Sri Lankan Premier Rajapaksa as a true friend of Bangladesh and said, "He has always stood by our side. I also try my level best to reciprocate that friendly gesture."
Sheikh Hasina thanked Rajapaksa and hoped that the cordial relations between the peoples of the two countries would grow stronger in future.
Terming Bangladesh as one of the key emerging economic powerhouses in South Asia, Sri Lankan Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa said Bangladesh remained an important trading and investment partner for his country and exchanges between the two countries had continued to grow rapidly during the last few decades.
Rajapaksa said Prime Minister Hasina's proposal to promote a "Blue Economy" in the Bay of Bengal continued to underpin their approach on maritime affairs. "The great strides Bangladesh has made in the field of agriculture attract great attention in Sri Lanka," he said.
In addition to playing an active role through the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Agriculture Centre in Dhaka, he said Bangladesh continued to provide training and capacity building for Sri Lankan institutions.
"The friendly relations between our two countries have a long history. Many scholars believe that the first migrations from Bengal arrived in Sri Lanka through maritime routes as far back as 2,500 years ago," he said.
Rajapaksa said as a neighbour and a close friend, Sri Lanka stood side by side with Bangladesh to achieve greater freedom and prosperity. "Our objectives of economic transformation, eradication of poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals remain key priorities in the middle of great challenges."
"The geographical locations of our two countries provide ample opportunities for us to enhance closer maritime, shipping, trade and people-to-people contacts," Rajapaksa said.
The Sri Lankan prime minister is leading a 28-member delegation.
According to Bangladesh foreign ministry sources, the two countries may ink five Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in such areas as trade, investment, agriculture and maritime shipping.
On Wednesday, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih joined the first day of the 10-day celebrations in Dhaka. During the Maldivian president's visit, Bangladesh and the Maldives signed four MoUs to boost cooperation between the two countries in different areas, including fisheries and cultural affairs.
On 22 March, President of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari will land in Dhaka to join the celebrations. On 24 March, Prime Minister of Bhutan Lotay Tshering will come to Bangladesh while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on 26 March.
At least three MoUs will be signed with India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Dhaka visit, according to Foreign Ministry officials.
Bangabandhu outstanding political figure, devoted fighter for his people: Russia
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday said his country remembers Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as an "outstanding political figure, a devoted fighter" for the freedom and happiness of his people and a true friend of Russia.
He said Bangladesh is Russia's important economic partner in South Asia.
"Russia is ready to continue bilateral political dialogue and mutually beneficial practical cooperation," Minister Lavrov said in a video message to the citizens of Bangladesh on the occasion of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu and the 50th anniversary of independence of Bangladesh.
Lavrov said he is convinced that the existing ties of friendship will grow stronger for the benefit of two countries' citizens.
He said Bangabandhu was the first-ever Bangladeshi top-ranking official to pay an official visit to Moscow in March 1972, less than two months after the diplomatic recognition of Bangladesh by the then Soviet Union.
It was then that the foundation for bilateral relations building on the principles of equality, mutual respect and consideration of each other's interests was laid, said the Russian foreign minister.
Symbolically, the commemoration of Bangabandhu's birth centenary is followed back to back by the celebration of the 50th anniversary of independence, he said, extending his heartfelt greetings to all on this remarkable jubilee event.
"It is a great honour for me to address the friendly people of Bangladesh on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of founder of your country Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50th anniversary of independence of Bangladesh," said Minister Lavrov.
The people of East Bengal paid a high price for the right to determine its own destiny, he said.
"Our country offered Bangladesh considerable political support and contributed to its war-torn economy restoration efforts," said Minister Lavrov.
On request of the government of Bangladesh, in April 1972, the 12th special-purpose company of the USSR Navy was dispatched to Bangladesh to perform mine and shipwreck clearance of the port of Chittagong. Soviet navy sailors lived up to their task.
"It is heartening that our Bangladeshi friends have carried the memory of this feat through half a century. Such a careful attitude towards our common history is highly commendable," he said.
Lavrov said they welcome the considerable success made by the People's Republic of Bangladesh over the years of its independence.
"Your country is steadily pursuing its path towards progress and gradual development and enjoys a strong reputation in the international community," he said.
Dhaka actively engages in addressing current global challenges, including the fight against poverty and climate change.
As a major troop contributor to the UN peacekeeping operations, it continues to largely contribute to the conflict settlement process across the globe.
"Last year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the turnover between our two states saw a nearly 15% increase, exceeding an all-time record mark of $2.4 billion," Lavrov said.
Minister Lavrov highlighted the ongoing implementation of the largest joint project on the construction of the first nuclear power plant Rooppur in Bangladesh.
"We expect that it will be put into operation in 2023-2024, bringing to a completely new technological level the local energy sector," he said.