Bangladesh has sought active cooperation from Russia and others for resolving the ongoing Rohingya crisis.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali made the call at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow yesterday, says a foreign ministry press release.
While describing Bangladesh’s achievements, including its becoming eligible for graduating to a developing country from a least developed one, Ali narrated how the possibility of outstanding economic and social development tempo of Bangladesh may face challenge by the Rohingya influx.
The foreign minister told his Russian counterpart how Bangladesh was doing everything in its capacity to assist Rohingyas at a great financial, social and environmental cost on humanitarian grounds and as goodwill gestures of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He apprised Lavrov of the latest developments and the measures taken by Dhaka for the rehabilitation of the displaced Myanmar nationals and sought the active cooperation of Russian and all others for resolving the issue.
In response, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov praised the efforts by Bangladesh and considered the recent engagements of Myanmar and the proposed inclusion of UN agencies and UNHCR in the rehabilitation arrangement.
He also assured possible assistance of Russia in this regard.
Bangladesh, being one of the most densely populated countries in the world, does not have enough space to allow more than a million Rohingya refugees to resettle within its borders, Ali told Sputnik yesterday.
“We can’t take any additional people to settle down here…. We’re hoping that all of them will be taken back. In 1991-1992, a quarter million of similar refugees came to Bangladesh. After negotiating an agreement for their return, most of them had gone back… to Myanmar. That’s why we are hoping and they have accepted also to take them,” Ali said at a press conference, after meeting Lavrov.
The foreign minister welcomed efforts from the international community, including Russia, in trying to resolve the refugee crisis.
“Now, things are falling into place. India, China, Japan and Indonesia have come forward to build the infrastructure including the housing, basic health care facilities, primary schools and roads in the northern Rakhine state where the refugees came from. We have also requested the Russian side to see whether they can help with the process. On the Bangladesh part, we have been trying to help the Myanmar government,” he said.
Myanmar has made some concessions to allow the repatriation process to move forward, Ali added.
“We’re trying to start the process as soon as possible. The Myanmar side initially had not accepted the role of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. But now we’re pleased to say that the Myanmar side has accepted its participation and is trying to negotiate an agreement with the UNHCR and the United Nations. Hopefully, it’ll come true very soon and we can start the process. In the meantime, a lot of other things have to be done.”
He said that the Myanmar government has informed Bangladesh that their minister for social development and social welfare is coming to Bangladesh on April 11 and will also visit the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
“We’re happy with that and we have also requested the Russian Federation, my friend the [Russian] foreign minister so that we can work together in resolving these problems and sending these refugees back in accordance with the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Foundation report.”
According to the Bangladesh foreign ministry press release, both the Ministers have expressed deep satisfaction on the pace of progress of the project for implementing the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant under the state export credit extended by the government of the Russian Federation.
The Russian foreign minister assured Bangladesh of the timely completion of the project and training of the essential scientific and technical personnel.
The foreign ministers have expressed their satisfaction for the successful operations of Gazprom in different gas fields of Bangladesh and the Russian side reassured the engagement of Gazprom for further engagements in the energy sector.
Regarding “Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific & Technical Cooperation”, both the ministers have agreed to determine date and venue of the first meeting of the Commission.
In the meeting, the upward trend of two-way bilateral trade was highly underscored which stands at $1.64 billion. Foreign Minister Ali strongly urged for duty-free and quota free access of Bangladeshi products into the Russian market and his Russian counterpart recommended approaching the issue through the platform of Eurasian Economic Union.
A MoU on general cooperation between Bangladesh Government and Eurasian Economic Commission is to be signed very soon.
They also discussed the strong defense ties existing between Bangladesh and Russia. Lavrov particularly thanked Bangladesh for supporting different Russian candidature.