VIENNA, May 31, 2017 (BSS) - Bangladesh and Austria yesterday agreed to boost cooperation in the fields of economy, climate change and combating terrorism as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held bilateral talks with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern at Federal Chancellery here.
"We have agreed to boost cooperation in the fields of economy, climate change, combating terrorism and sustainability of the planet," the Austrian chancellor said in a press statement after the talks with Bangladesh premier.
Kern mentioned that the first official visit of a Bangladesh premier to Austria unveiled a new horizon in the bilateral ties between Dhaka and Vienna.
The Austrian chancellor said though Bangladesh was born as a proud nation in the early 70s, the relations between the two countries were not so close. "But through the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a new chapter has been opened up in the bilateral relations," he said.
In her statement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her firm belief that her visit to Austria would infuse a new dynamism into the bilateral relations between Dhaka and Vienna.
"I firmly believe that my visit to Austria would add dynamism to our relations," she said in her statement after holding a bilateral meeting with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern at Federal Chancellery.
The premier added: "In recent time, our relations have strengthened ...we have opened our resident mission in Vienna in 2014, which indicates our willingness to work closely and enhance cooperation with Austria."
Sheikh Hasina said she and the Austrian chancellor have jointly identified the key areas for enhanced cooperation between the two countries like agriculture, livestock, connectivity, trade and investment, and so on.
"We have also exchanged views on global issues like terrorism and violent extremism," she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh and Austria enjoyed close relations in early 70s, during the time of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
She said the then Austrian government, led by Prime Minister Bruno Kriesky, expressed solidarity with Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971 and recognized independent Bangladesh as early on February 4, 1972.
"We were privileged to confer upon Chancellor Kriesky, posthumously, the 'Friends of Liberation War Honour' in 2012," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has come a long way since independence in 1971.
She said Bangladesh has made significant progress in areas like alleviating poverty, attaining food security, improving health and sanitation, mainstreaming gender through women empowerment, expanding social safety nets, and so on.
"Our MDG scorecard speaks it all! Bangladesh is now globally recognized as a 'Role Model' for development. We have achieved 7.24% GDP growth this year," she said.
The premier thanked the Austrian chancellor for the warm welcome extended to her and her delegation in Vienna.
Sheikh Hasina expressed Bangladesh's eagerness to work jointly with Austria on the issues of combating terrorism and climate change.
When a journalist raised a question about the cyclone "Mora" that hit Bangladesh today, the prime minister said such a cyclone in Bangladesh is very natural as Bangladesh is a country of six seasons.
"Such a cyclone is taking place in Bangladesh due to the impact of the climate change," she said holding again the developed countries responsible for the climate change.
The prime minister said the causalities in the cyclone are less as the government took allout preparations to this end. "Our capacity building in tackling natural disasters is outstanding," she said.
Briefing reporters after the talks, Prime Minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told reporters that the prime minister said the problem of terrorism could not be solved militarily, rather it will have to be solved through discussion.
"The refugee problem has been turned into a serious crisis across the world and we don't want the people of any country to become refugees due to the conflict," she said.
The press secretary said the premier pointed out Bangladesh's "zero tolerance policy" against terrorism and militancy and reiterated her call to block the source of money and arms to eliminate these social vices.
He said the Austrian chancellor offered technical cooperation to Bangladesh to combat climate change.
Christian Kern highly praised Bangladesh's outstanding socioeconomic progress under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Austrian chancellor accepted the prime minister's invitation to visit Bangladesh as a mutually convenient time, the press secretary said.
After the talks, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the foreign office consultation.
The Bangladesh delegation that took part in the talks included Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)