Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday (Nov 11) asked the world community to take appropriate measures for sustainable repatriation of the Rohingyas for regional security and development, saying peace and harmony are essential for the prosperity of the region.
“In terms of regional security, I would like to say that more than 1.1 million Rohingya citizens of Myanmar fled to Bangladesh in the face of persecution and they are a threat to the security not only for Bangladesh but also for the region. I urge the world community to take appropriate action realizing the gravity of the threat,” she said.
She was addressing while opening the three-day “Dhaka Global Dialogue 2019” at a hotel in Dhaka in the morning, local media reported.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) and Observer Research Foundation, India are jointly organising the function. Over 150 delegates from over 50 countries are taking part in the dialogue to discuss, ideate and debate the most pressing global imperatives.
The premier added: “It will not possible to ensure development and prosperity of any country without having peace and safety.” She called upon all the countries of the region of the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean for their collective efforts to this end.
Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen, President of Observer Research Foundation, India Dr Samir Saran and Director General of BIISS Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, also spoke at the function. A video documentary titled “Bangladesh were tomorrow belong” was also screened on the occasion.
Sheikh Hasina said, “The present century is being considered as the ‘Century of Asia’ in terms of socio-economic development and prosperity.” The premier however stressed the need for maintaining peace and harmony for the prosperity of the region.
Terming poverty as the main enemy of the region, she said, “Therefore, the main goal of all our activities should be directed to eradicate people’s poverty and ensure their comfortable lives.”
About importance of the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal for economic progress and development of the region, the PM said, “The economies of the countries ashore of or dependent on the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, and the lives of their peoples, are hugely influenced by the ocean and the sea.”
“Therefore, peace and stability in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal is essential for the economic progress and security of these countries as the resources, environment, ecology and security of the ocean and the sea directly affect the economy and the security of these nations,” she continued.
The premier said, there are 40 developing countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, where 35 per cent of the global population lives while six countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal, and few more countries like Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, Malaysia and Singapore have important impact of the Bay on their economies despite not being at the coast.
She stated that half of the global container shipment and 80 percent of global fuel trade passes through the Indian Ocean while 16.8 percent of the global reserve of oil and 27.9 percent of natural gas is situated in this Ocean.
The Ocean consists of a number of vital maritime routes, which contribute significantly to the largest economies of Asia while 28 percent of the total fisheries are collected from Indian Ocean, she said.
She also said there are various unconventional threats such as piracy, armed robbery, terrorist attacks in coastal and maritime areas, human trafficking, arm and drug smuggling, in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal region.
The premier called upon all concerned countries to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation as well as partnerships to resolve all these problems.
“Bangladesh believes that such cooperation is needed to be inclusive for all and with the aim of everyone’s development and security. Bangladesh always exerts strong efforts to enhance peaceful and cooperative relations in the region of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean,” she said.
The premier said Bangladesh became role model for other countries as it peacefully resolved the maritime disputes and land boundary agreement with neighbouring Myanmar and India. She advocated for cooperative, amicable, dignified and equitable relationship between coastal countries to extract maritime resources sustainably for the development of the ‘Blue Economy’.
But, the premier expressed her stance against excessive extraction of marine resources, including fisheries and pollution which are jeopardizing the maritime environment.
“Pollution and excessive extraction of marine resources are destroying the ecology in the sea, damaging the overall environment of the world. As a result, threats are being created for human health and livelihood. It is not possible to resolve these crises by a single country,” she said.
In this context, she said that every year, 8 million tons of plastic wastes are being gathered in the oceans and seas in the world.
Geographically Bangladesh is a country ashore of the Bay of Bengal, and as such of the Indian Ocean, the premier said, adding, “As an offshore country, the sea plays an extremely important role in Bangladesh’s economy, and for many reasons Bangladesh puts high priority to the Indian Ocean as well as Bay of Bengal.”
The premier firstly stressed the need for security and stability of maritime routes for maintaining economic stability of Bangladesh as 90 percent of total external trade of Bangladesh is conducted through maritime routes.
She said secondly the utilization of maritime resources for the economic development of the country largely depends on the stability of the region as Bangladesh’s absolute sovereignty has been established over an area of 1,18,813 square km in the Bay of Bengal including 200 nautical miles, after reconciliation of maritime boundaries with Myanmar in 2012 and with India in 2014.
“Thirdly, apart from natural gas, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean contain huge amount of fisheries as well as mineral and other resources,” she added.
The premier said a study shows that the tentative amount of resources that can be collected from the maritime area of Bangladesh, is almost equal to the tentative amount of resources Bangladesh produces in its land.
Referring to the main principle of Bangladesh’s foreign policy “Friendship to all, malice to none”, she said that Bangladesh follows the same policy in the area of maritime boundary and maritime economy.
The premier said Bangladesh, due to its geographical location, is acting as a bridge between South Asia and South-East Asia. In this context, she said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman emphasized global peace and security for human welfare.
The premier hoped “Dhaka Global Dialogue” will act as a platform for the countries in this region on the way of achieving environmentally sustainable peace and prosperity.
Spelling out various measures for the development in various sector particularly in education, health, infrastructure development, climate change adaptation and digital Bangladesh, the premier said, “Nowadays, Bangladesh is very often being termed as a ‘Miracle of Development’ in the international arena. Today Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.”
She said according to the World Bank, Bangladesh stands second in Asia and fifth in the world among the fastest growing economies while as per the IMF, Bangladesh has 30th largest GDP in the world in terms of PPP, adding, “This year economy of Bangladesh has exceeded 300 billion dollar mark.”
The premier said her government has been relentlessly working to make Bangladesh a developed and prosperous country free from hunger and poverty as dreamt by the Father of the Nation.
“We have undertaken ‘Vision 2021’ and ‘Vision 2041’ to be a ‘Middle Income Country’ by 2021 and a ‘Developed-Prosperous Nation’ by 2041,” she added.