Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen emphasised on collective efforts by the ASEAN leaders to tackle challenges faced by the ASEAN region while delivering a speech today at the 29th Meeting of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) under the theme "ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together".
During his remarks, Momen highlighted some key challenges including recurring waves of new variants of Covid -19, global turmoil due to conflict in Europe, climate change, economic recession, and food and commodity crises that can only be adequately and effectively addressed through mutual trust and cooperation underpinned by multilateral arrangements like ARF.
Dr. Momen raised that in the fifth year of the Rohingya crisis, not a single Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals has been repatriated to Myanmar. He sought more focus and active support from the ARF countries for a durable solution to this crisis, particularly the ASEAN leaders' support, and request them to strengthen their ongoing efforts to help create an environment within Myanmar that will encourage the Rohingyas to return.
Dr. Momen also raised the issue of the high FDI Myanmar secured despite the genocide it committed and atrocities it did. He also points out that after the 2017 Rohingya invasion, even EU countries’ trade and investment increased substantially. In terms of foreign direct investment, the EU was the 5th largest foreign investor following other Asian Countries. He also reminiscent the history that during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, there was economic sanction on Myanmar and therefore, they repatriated thousands of their nationals in the 1970s and 1990s through dialogue and discussions. He requested the western leaders to impose strong economic sanction on Myanmar as unless economic sanction is imposed on Myanmar, Myanmar is not likely to listen to world leadership.
Meanwhile, he pointed out that delaying the repatriation process may pose a security threat to the entire region and beyond.
Foreign Minister stated that Bangladesh is the link between two of the world's most vibrant economic regions, Southeast Asia and South Asia. It seeks to promote itself as a hub of road, rail, riverine, maritime, and air connectivity for landlocked South Asian countries/regions and continental Southeast Asian countries. Bangladesh believes that maximizing the Bay of Bengal's potential and improving connectivity can revitalize the region. To this end, Momen highlighted our massive investment in developing and upgrading infrastructure, including ports, land ports, airports, roads and rail networks. He expressed Bangladesh's aspiration to collaborate and cooperate with ASEAN by becoming a Sectoral Dialogue Partner. He sought support from all the ASEAN Countries in this process.
Dr. Momen concluded his speech with six proposals for ensuring resilient economic cooperation in the region:
Second, research, investment, and advanced technology sharing for trade promotion;
Third, the rapid development of connectivity;
Fourth, common action to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.
Fifth, Marine resource exploration, development
Sixth, creating an energy hub in this region.
He reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to work closely with ARF for our collective development and prosperity.
ASEAN is a multilateral, regional platform that aspires to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries. 29th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) held on 5 August 2022 in Phnom Penh. Foreign Minister Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, M.P., led Bangladesh delegation to the 29th ARF Meeting. Regional Organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated participation of the Hon'ble Foreign Minister in the Meeting hosted by Cambodia, the current Chair of the ARF. Foreign Ministers, Deputy Foreign Ministers and other delegates of the 27 ARF Member States participated in today's Meeting. The Meeting was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. PRAK Sokhonn, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia .
The Meeting ended with the signing of a Joint Statement titled "ASEAN Regional Forum Framework on Promoting Peace, Stability and Prosperity in the Region through Preventive Diplomacy" and "ASEAN Regional Forum Statement on Supporting the Preservation of Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone." Chairman’s Statement of the 29th ASEAN Regional Forum was also adopted.