Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has lauded Bangladesh's progress saying that the country has become a rising star in South Asia and sustainable development model for the entire world under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Cavusoglu made the remarks during his brief visit on December 23. Though he mainly visited Bangladesh to inaugurate the newly built Turkish Embassy in Dhaka, he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and held bilateral talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen at state guesthouse Padma.

The Turkish Foreign Minister started the day visiting Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in the morning where he paid tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

During the visit, Bangladesh and Turkish foreign ministers discussed bilateral and regional issues, including the Rohingya situation, as the two countries are keen to open a new chapter in their relations with an emphasis on stronger trade and investment relations.

Turkey is eyeing increased investment in Bangladesh and a significant jump in bilateral trade as Bangladesh's economy is growing fast.

A prominent Turkish company will initially invest US$ 100 million in LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) sector in Chattogram.

Improving trade between the two countries, boosting investment in Bangladesh, enhancing cultural and people-to- people ties are among his priorities of Turkey.

The bilateral trade volume between the two countries is now around US$ 1 billion annually and both countries believe there is a scope to increase it further.

Defence Cooperation

Turkey expressed its keenness to enhance "defence cooperation" with Bangladesh and go for "joint production and technology transfer" with different countries including Bangladesh as Turkey's defence capacity is growing.

"Turkey is ready for joint production and technology transfer to other countries including Bangladesh," said the Turkish Foreign Minister.

He said they do not produce everything but they are now producing more than 75 percent of their needs because in the past they had difficulties to procure defence items. "Therefore, we started producing for our own needs."

The Turkish Foreign Minister said they are also having joint ventures and technology transfer with neighboring countries

Its neighbour to the northwest is Bulgaria; Greece to the west; Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran to the east; Georgia to the northeast; Syria to the south; and Iraq to the southeast.

Turkish arms exports during the period 2014-18 had increased by 170% compared with the period from 2009-13.

By 2018, Turkey was the 14th largest arms exporter in the world with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkmenistan the main destinations.

The issue of defence cooperation between Bangladesh and Turkey was discussed during the meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen.

Though it was not in the agenda, the Turkish side shared the idea of defence cooperation while Bangladesh was more interested in trade and investment issues in the meeting, officials said.

Tributes to Leaders

Busts of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Ankara and the Bust of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk will be unveiled simultaneously at an appropriate date and time in the near future.

Foreign Minister Dr Momen said this while inaugurating the newly built Embassy of Turkey in Dhaka jointly with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Around three months ago, the newly built Bangladesh Embassy in Ankara was inaugurated in Ankara.

"These two events have brought us one step forward in our excellent bilateral relations," Dr Momen said.

He recalled with admiration Father of the Nation of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. "Our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was greatly inspired by Atatürk when he led the Bangali nation to statehood in 1971 through our War of Independence."

Dr Momen said Bangabandhu's dictum, "Friendship to all, malice to none" since Bangladesh's independence has been the bedrock of foreign policy which carries commendable similarity with the official foreign policy motto of the Republic of Turkey coined by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk which is "Peace at home, Peace in the world".

The Foreign Minister thanked the government and the friendly people of Turkey for the most generous support and cooperation extended to Bangladesh over the years and most significantly for being a true and a reliable friend in particular on the issues concerning the Rohingyas.

"Let me assure the Government and the people of Turkey of our firm commitment to working closely with growing trust and confidence as we strive to strengthen relations between our two countries towards common goals and prosperity," he said.

Rohingya Issue

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sought Turkey's involvement in ensuring the return of forcibly-displaced Myanmar citizens from Bangladesh to their homeland. She made the request when the Turkish Foreign Minister met her at her official residence Ganobhaban.

While talking to media after the bilateral talks with Dr Momen, the Turkish Foreign Minister said the Rohingya issue has become a huge burden for Bangladesh and assured Dhaka of Ankara's continuous support to resolve the crisis. "This burden could be shared by the international community."

Cavusoglu said the Rohingyas must return to their homeland in a safe, voluntary and dignified manner and this is one of the areas where the two countries will continue to work together.

The Turkish Foreign Minister supported the efforts of the Bangladesh government to give Rohingyas better living conditions by relocating them to Bhasan Char until the repatriation takes place.

He suggested the government of Bangladesh to work closely with the United Nations and its agencies in this regard.

Responding to a UNB question on burden sharing by the international community, the Turkish Foreign Minister said he sees the same problem here and the international community praises Bangladesh for their hospitality.

The Turkish Foreign Minister sought stronger support from the international community in terms of burden sharing, not just appreciative words but concrete steps.

"But we don't want to see only words," he said emphasising visible action in terms of burden sharing.

On Rohingya relocation to Bhasan Char, the Turkish Foreign Minister said this is also in line with their proposal that they can build much better camps for the refugees.

But Turkey's firm position is that the Rohingyas should be able to go back to their home. "Until they return, they deserve better living conditions."

Bangladesh has decided to relocate, in phases, 1,00,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char amid growing concerns over the extreme congestion in Rohingya camps in Bangladesh's tourism hub Cox's Bazar district and to avert any risk of death due to landslides and other unwarranted incidents.

Accordingly, in the first phase, 1,642 Rohingyas who expressed their willingness voluntarily for relocation were relocated to Bhashan Char on December 4, 2020 amid concerns raised by some human rights groups.

The Turkish Foreign Minister congratulated Bangladesh for successfully fighting against the Covid-19 under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. "We will provide more support if Bangladesh needs."

He said they discussed how to build Turkish hospital in Bangladesh and they are working on different models.

The Turkish Foreign Minister congratulated Bangladesh on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, being celebrated until December 2021 and 50 years of Bangladesh's Independence, to be celebrated in March 2021.

Dr Momen visited Turkey in September this year and joined the formal inauguration of the newly-built Bangladesh Embassy in Ankara. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina virtually joined the programme as the chief guest.

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