State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. ShahriarAlam MP held bilateral official talks with his Belarusian counterpart Valentin Rybakob, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Minsk yesterday morning. Recalling the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister welcomed the Minister’s visit as a timely initiative to take forward bilateral relations to higher level.
State Minister Alam underscored the closer engagements in the context of exchange of back-to-back Prime Ministerial visits in 2012 and 2013 (from Belarus and Bangladesh, respectively), that in effect, had set the key directions of our bilateral relations. Both the Ministers agreed that deeper economic cooperation should get main focus, as there is ample scope for further expansion of bilateral trade and investments. In that context, State Minister Alam sought support of Belarus for the “duty free-quota free” access of Bangladeshi products to the Eurasian Economic Union, where Belarus is a key member (other members are Russian Federation, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Armenia).
State Minister invited Belarusian investment in Bangladesh, where they could use Bangladesh as a regional hub between China, India and South East Asian Countries. He emphasized on frequent contacts and interactions between chambers of both countries through regular exchange of trade delegations. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus mentioned about the delivery of Road-Construction Equipments by the Belarusian Company AMKODOR to the Local Government Division of Bangladesh under US$ 50 million Export Commodity Credit (soft loans) rendered through Promagroleasing (Belarusian Bank for International Development). Expressing his appreciation for such concessional loan-based economic cooperation, State Minister Alam further noted with satisfaction the Joint Venture of Amkodor-Polash Service Center, which is going to be inaugurated next week by the Belarusian Minister of Industries at Amkodor-Polash Industrial Zone, Narshingdi of Bangladesh. He hoped that such joint venture would ensure transfer of technology and commence manufacturing of small and light engineering equipments as it has potential to have much wider impact on the growing bilateral economic cooperation between our two countries. The Belarusian Deputy Minister mentioned that Belarus foreign policy is redesigned with more focus on the emerging economies of Asia and in that context identifies Bangladesh as promising priority country with sustained high economic growth.
Noting the educational excellence of Belarus, State Minister Alam emphasized on more cooperation on science, technology and innovation to take advantage of talented young population of Bangladesh. He requested his Belarusian counterpart to provide scholarships with a view to encourage enrollment of more Bangladeshi students in Belarusian universities and technological institutions. In this regard he expressed satisfaction at the conclusion of a MoU between Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (Bangladesh) and Belarus State University of Informatics and Radio-Electronics. Both Ministers expressed satisfaction at the holding 2nd round of consultations of the Joint Commission on Science and Technology in Minsk last month.
The Deputy Minister of Belarus emphasized on holding the next round of Political Consultations between the two Foreign Ministries at the earliest to discuss all aspects of bilateral relations. Bangladesh State Minister agreed to take necessary steps in that regard and invited the Belarusian delegation to visit Bangladesh for that purpose, dates for which would be duly communicated through diplomatic channel. The Belarusian Deputy Minister also requested for arranging first meeting of the Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. From the Belarusian side, among others, the top notch of Amkodor, Mr. Alexander Shakutin, MP, Amkodor Director General Mr. Valery Evankovich were present in the meeting.
Earlier the State Minister visited the Council of the Republic National Assembly (i.e., Parliament) and met with the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Security Professor Dr. Sergey Rakhmaanov. Dr. Rakhmanov led a Parliamentary team to the 136th Session of IPU Assembly that was held in Dhaka early April. State Minister Alam briefed Dr. Rakhmanov about the growing role of Bangladesh in balancing the regional stability under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in line with our key foreign policy mantra “friendship to all, malice to none”, as stipulated by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In response, Dr. Rakhmanv congratulated Bangladesh for successful organization of the IPU Assembly, which surely projected an enhanced global image for Bangladesh. He further informed that Belarus, being situated between the regional powers like Russian Federation and the European Union, follows same ideology in the foray of foreign policy initiatives and strives for balanced relations with all neighbors. Both of them agreed that both Bangladesh and Belarus may work together to lead their respective regions in connecting and integrating trade, economy and culture.
Earlier on 18 April, Bangladesh State Minister led a (7-member) Bangladesh business delegation at a Business Conference held at the Belarusian National Center for Marketing and Price Study and exchanged views with a representative business delegation of Belarus, led by the Center Director Ambassador Valery Sadokho. State Minister Alam made a short presentation on Bangladesh economy and market competitiveness. The Belarusian business delegation expressed their keen interest on trade, agriculture, agricultural machinery, electro-mechanical and power distribution equipments, road construction equipments and Potash fertilizer.
State Minister Alam visited the Khatyn Memorial, 54-km away from the capital Minsk, to pay tribute by placing floral wreath in memory of the almost three million Belarusians who died during the Great Patriotic War (WW II: 1941-1945).
The State Minister was accompanied by the Director General (Europe) of the Ministry of foreign Affairs and other officials of the Ministry and the Embassy of Bangladesh in Moscow (concurrently responsible for Belarus) during the visit.
The State Minister and his delegation was traveling to Warsaw yesterday evening for three-day visit commencing on 20 April.