Saturday, 30 September, 2023

Bangladesh Commands Respect in Global Forums

Bangladesh Commands Respect in Global Forums

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A.K.M. Atiqur Rahman

Following the principles of Bangladesh’s foreign policy framed by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh has been maintaining relations with the countries of the world for more than half a century. ‘Friendship to all, malice towards none’, ‘peaceful co-existence’ and ‘non-interference in the internal affairs of other states’ - are the basic pillars of that foreign policy. Bangladesh gives utmost importance to these principles in maintaining its foreign relations. And this is why Bangladesh is getting so much importance at the world stage.

In the last few months, a good number of foreign delegations have visited Bangladesh and similarly, there were several foreign visits from Bangladesh. Foreign delegations visited Bangladesh in recent times included the President, Foreign Minister, other ministers and high-level delegations. Apart from the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, other ministers and high-level government officials of Bangladesh visited a number of countries. Among these visits, besides bilateral, there were also multilateral or international level visits. In the first week of this month, the President of Bangladesh attended an ASEAN meeting in Indonesia. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh attended the International Labour Organization (ILO) conference held in Geneva in June, the BRICS conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa in August, and the G20 summit held in New Delhi in September. We know that apart from the G20 member countries, Bangladesh, Comoros (as African Union President), Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates were invited to the conference. Needless to say, Bangladesh was the only country in South Asia among the invitees. Bangladesh’s participation in regional or international events proves the importance and acceptance of Bangladesh to the international community.

A good number of delegations at official level have come from the United States. Besides, delegations from other countries and organisations like the European Union, United Kingdom and United Nations have visited Bangladesh for various purposes. Many people are raising various questions as these visits are taking place in a time when the national election of the country is very close. Even the BNP was once very happy about these visits, now it has come to some realisation and is seeking solace in other ways. We must remember that the bilateral relations of two countries are strengthened through partnership and progress towards development by safeguarding the interests of both sides. Mutual respect, trust and confidence are born between two states through understanding and bilateral cooperation. Because of these, the existing relationship between the United States and Bangladesh is getting stronger. No one seems to be able to create any rift between the two countries by misinterpreting or creating confusion. However, both sides should keep a sharp eye so that such a situation does not arise.

At a time when the world was trying with all its might to recover from the collapse of the global economy due to the corona epidemic, the Ukraine-Russia war caused a major disaster. This war has not only caused the immense suffering of the people of the world in the economic field, but also created various equations in global politics. Even the recently concluded G-20 summit in New Delhi, as mentioned in the declaration, did not give the world much hope about the Ukraine war. Bangladesh and other countries in the region are also going through this ongoing crisis. This crisis does not seem to end anytime soon. In fact, the world political situation depends mainly on the ongoing relationship between China, India, Russia and the United States and their strategies to influence others. The ongoing and future status of bilateral relations between China-India, China-US, China-Russia, India-US, India-Russia, Russia-US will not only affect the foreign relations of countries in our region, but also affect other regions. In fact, the power-loving attitude of the US, China and Russia is enough to put the world in crisis.

On the other hand, if we think about the ongoing geopolitical instability around the Indo-Pacific region, especially the Indian Ocean, then Bangladesh has to worry. In this case, whatever steps China, USA and India take to implement their plans, Bangladesh will need to be taken along with them. And Bangladesh will not allow regional stability and peace to be disturbed in any way. Bangladesh will welcome and support all peaceful steps taken by China, USA or India on this issue. However, there is no denying that the hegemonic pattern is not in its former form, but that it is still running latently in most cases. Therefore, taking those into consideration, I believe that Bangladesh will take a responsible role to ensure geopolitical stability in Asia and the Pacific region without any bias. Even during his visit to Bangladesh on September 11, the French President emphasised the sovereignty and strategic position of France’s partners in the Indo-Pacific.

Bangladesh has very good relations with all countries, including its neighbours, Russia, China and USA. Bangladesh has no such complicated dispute with any country. As a believer of peaceful settlement of all international disputes, Bangladesh wants to solve those through mutual discussions. Bangladesh has been seeking the cooperation of all countries for the sustainable and safe repatriation of more than a million Rohingya citizens of Myanmar who were given shelter by Bangladesh. Bangladesh feels that China and India can play the most important role to repatriate them. Even the Russian Foreign Minister, during his recent visit to Dhaka, has agreed to discuss the issue with Myanmar. Bangladesh believes that disputes with India could be solved through discussion. In fact, any unresolved issues could be resolved if two sides are sincere.

 Apart from the national elections in Bangladesh, the countries that will hold elections in 2024 include Algeria, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, United Kingdom and the United States. And the outcome of the US election will have the biggest impact on world politics and economics. The Ukraine war and heightened tensions between the US and China could lead the geopolitical arena to an uncertain future. As such, other countries and regions of the world, besides the countries involved in the war, will have to face the risks. A country's political changes can also change its relations with the outside world. Bangladesh is no exception.

 The path of politics, whether domestic or international, is never smooth, nor is it a straight line. Accepting this reality, the path has to be determined, it has to be suitable for walking. And this task is certainly not easy. However, in the way that Bangladesh is moving towards development under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, I hope that Bangladesh will properly preserve its position in the world political arena and strengthen bilateral relations in a friendly atmosphere with all countries in order to move towards progress in pursuit of its foreign policy.


The writer is a former Ambassador and Secretary