Visiting Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim yesterday expressed his country’s intention to further improve the existing strong trade and economic relations with Bangladesh, and assured Bangladesh of continuing its support to Rohingyas living in Bangladesh.
“We’ve discussed what we can do to improve our economic and trade relations,” he said, terming Bangladesh a dynamic nation with nearly 7 percent GDP growth over the past few years.
After a bilateral meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, the Turkish PM highly appreciated Hasina’s diplomacy over the Rohingya issue and Bangladesh’s support to the displaced people.
He said the bilateral document signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23 will make Rohingyas’ return to their home possible soon.
The Turkish premier urged the international community to enhance their support for Rohingyas in Bangladesh and find a political solution to the crisis, looking at it as a humanitarian crisis instead of seeing it as an issue of Bangladesh.
He arrived in the capital on Monday night on a two-day official visit.
Bangladesh and Myanmar on Tuesday formed a joint working group (JWG) to start the next step of work for the Rohingya repatriation and inked the terms of reference (TOR).
The agreed TOR mandates the JWG to undertake all the necessary measures to start the safe and voluntary return, resettlement and reintegration process of the displaced Myanmar residents as envisaged in the “Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State”.
An estimated 655,000 Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 25, raising the total Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar to 867,000, said the UN migration agency.
Prime Minister Hasina said she had a very fruitful discussion with her Turkish counterpart on bilateral and international issues of common interests.
“We’ve reiterated our commitment to work closely and support each other on bilateral and international issues of mutual concern, including the issue of forcibly displaced Rohingya people from Myanmar.”
They talked about consolidating cooperation in key areas such as trade and investment, defence, education, tourism and connectivity.
Hasina requested her Turkish counterpart to withdraw 17 percent and 19 percent additional duty imposed on Bangladeshi RMG and ceramic products.
The Turkish PM assured Bangladesh of looking into it, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Bangladesh sought Turkish investment in special economic zones in Bangladesh, if necessary, can offer a dedicated zone for the Turkish investors, said the foreign secretary.
Hasina also sought an initiative to quickly finalise the negotiations on Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.
The foreign secretary said the bilateral relation between Bangladesh and Turkey moved another step ahead following the Turkish PM’s visit.
On many international issues like Jerusalem, Syria, and the Middle East, both Bangladesh and Turkey hold similar positions which have made the Dhaka and Ankara relations more consolidated, he said.
Referring to Turkish role at the UN on the Rohingya issue in last September, the foreign secretary said Turkey along with Saudi Arabia played a very strong leading role in mobilising international support at that time.
Shahidul said Binali Yildirim wanted to know about Rohingya situation as they fled to Bangladesh following the crackdown by Myanmar military in August last.
2 MOUS SIGNED
Earlier, Bangladesh and Turkey signed two bilateral documents to enhance cooperation in the areas of Small and Medium Enterprises and maintain the standards of products.
The documents are: Memorandum of Understanding between the Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation of Bangladesh and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organisation of Turkey, and the other MoU between Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution and Turkish Standards Institution.
The instruments cover areas such as Small and Medium Enterprises, industrial production, standardisation, capacity building, knowledge sharing and skill development.
The signing ceremony was held after the official talks between Hasina and her Turkish counterpart at the PMO.
TURKISH PM TO VISIT ROHINGYAS
The Turkish PM will visit Cox’s Bazar to meet Rohingyas today, said Foreign Secretary Shahidul.
He will visit Kutupalong camp there and assess what kind of supports Rohingyas now need as the country wants to continue its support to Rohingyas.
The PM will leave Cox’s Bazar for home at 2:00pm. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali will see him off at Cox’s Bazar airport.