Outgoing Turkish Ambassador Mustafa Osman Turan has credited “very strong leadership” on both sides and deep political trust for the significant progress in Dhaka-Ankara relations in recent times – with growing economic and defence cooperation hand in hand.
“I think there are a couple of factors. One is the fact that both countries – Turkey and Bangladesh – are growing economies; and they have high growth rates and very strong leadership on both sides,” Turan told UNB in an exclusive interview.
The Turkish envoy, who is set to complete his tenure later this month, said they have found the opportunity to increase their trade and investments.
“I think Bangladesh and Turkey have very complementary economies; we can diversify our trade and increase the volume up to $2 billion in the years to come. Currently, it’s around $1.2 to $1.3 billion,” Ambassador Turan said.
The two countries were aiming for $1.5 billion trade annually but it slowed down because of the current global economic crisis.
“But I am confident that we can increase our trade to $2 billion easily in the next one or two years,” he said.
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GROWING DEFENCE COOPERATION
Turan said there is a “political aspect” which he sees as a “political factor” behind the stronger bilateral ties between the two countries.
Turkey is now considered as one of the most reliable partners of Bangladesh, he said. “We can safely say this.”
The ambassador explained that the two countries maintain cooperation in defence.
“We were able to sign some contracts recently, in the past one year in particular. This shows and proves that the relations between our countries at the political level are based on mutual trust,” he said.
Ambassador Turan referred to his recent farewell meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and said she confirmed that the “defence cooperation will continue” between the two countries.
“We are hoping that after the economic troubles everywhere around the world are over, we will enhance our defence cooperation. So, that’s a very good indication,” he said.
Politically speaking, the Turkish envoy said, they are hoping that after the elections in both countries, respective leaders will have high-level visits.
Turkey will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in mid-2023 while Bangladesh will hold the next national election in January 2024.
BANGLADESH-TÜRKIYE BUSINESS FORUM
At the end of his three years tenure in Bangladesh, Ambassador Turan said he is confident that the upward trend in relationship will continue and their trade and investments will be diversified.
ICT and pharmaceutical industries appear as promising fields of cooperation as well as agro-industry and light engineering, he said.
Bangladesh can also benefit from growing interest of the Turkish contracting companies to participate in infrastructure and transport projects.
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As a result of growing interactions between businesses and entrepreneurs, the Turkish Embassy in Dhaka took the initiative to encourage and support the establishment of ‘Bangladesh-Türkiye Business Forum’ (BTBF).
Led by Dr. Rubana Huq, Managing Director of Mohammadi Group, and Salahuddin Kasem Khan, of A.K. Khan and Company Ltd, BTBF brings together 13 Bangladeshi conglomerates and 6 Turkish companies operating in Bangladesh.
BTBF will be launched officially as a trust on January 17, following inauguration of its office in Dhaka’s Gulshan.
“Now, we have a leadership of the business forum and there will be a legal status as it will be formed as a trust,” said the Turkish ambassador.
With this business forum, he said, there are three objectives. One of the objectives is to promote trade and investments in both countries. The second is to facilitate business partnerships and the third is to rebrand Bangladesh in Turkey and rebrand Turkey in Bangladesh through exchanges, said Ambassador Turan.
He also highlighted the importance of cultural exchanges because the two countries have a strong shared cultural history and values. “The Business Forum would bring to light historical facts about our countries.”
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PROMOTING BANGLADESH IN TURKEY
The Ambassador said they have tried to promote Bangladesh in Turkey because their business community does not know enough about the country and the opportunities it offers. “I think here we have done a good job together with the Government of Bangladesh.”
“I think the level of awareness in Turkey about the opportunities and potential in Bangladesh is increasing day by day,” he said, adding that another factor – people to people contacts – also contributed to growing relations.
The ambassador said he suggested to the Bangladesh PM that the two countries can establish cultural centres reciprocally. “We will look into that possibility. I think she was positive because she really likes our culture. I gave her a culinary book on Turkish cuisine because I know she likes to cook. She really appreciated the gift.”
The ambassador said the two countries can also increase cooperation between universities. “Education is a very important area; we can do more in this field.”
Responding to a question on Rohingya repatriation, Ambassador Turan said Turkey has been supporting Bangladesh but the problem is that the key goal for safe repatriation is yet to be realized.
“Of course, repatriation is the real solution to this issue. But it requires the Myanmar government to prepare the favourable conditions for repatriation. They need to be willing to receive their own people. And it must be a safe, voluntary and dignified return,” he said.
Ambassador Turan said he will always remember the scenic beauty of Bangladesh. “I had an opportunity to fly over Bangladesh by helicopter. And when you fly by helicopter, you can see more because it’s close to the ground – how beautiful it is.”
He said he is hoping that there will be more tourism in Bangladesh to highlight the natural beauty of the landscape.
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TAKING A PATHAO RIDE TO AVOID DHAKA TRAFFIC JAM
“Yes, I wanted to try Pathao, because one of the important memories I have here is that I interacted a lot with young entrepreneurs and start-ups. Pathao is one of them,” said the Ambassador, adding, “And I wanted to see how it works. It worked really well and helped me arrive on time at my farewell dinner hosted by the Palestinian ambassador!”
Source: United News Of Bangladesh