In the history of humanity, difficult periods such as war, natural disasters or epidemics have affected people's perspective and changed perceptions of the world. Deep crises like these have even led to a paradigm shift.
While virtual calls in diplomacy previously seemed inconvenient in terms of courtesy, nowadays virtual meetings are accepted as an indispensable and important means of communication under pandemic conditions. Video calls have started to take place as alternatives to mutual visits and meetings held in accordance with the traditions in social life. Safekeeping and the instinct of securing ourselves have overridden the conventional rules of respect and courtesy.
The proven criminal, the intruder of the ongoing crisis is of course the COVID-19 pandemic. As humanity, while struggling with the pandemic, we are forced to contemplate the ideas of "how can we overcome this difficult period with less damage?"
We, as diplomats conform ourselves according to the foreign policy objectives of the country we represent. We map out the best way based on the conditions and general dynamics of the country we are accredited to. The pandemic process has given me, and I'm sure many of my colleagues as well, the opportunity to think thoroughly about "what can we improve and how we can do better in the future". While drawing a road map for ourselves, we take our competences, the possibilities we have, and other material or immaterial elements into account as well.
Interestingly enough, although Kosovo by air is around 6,600 kilometers away from Bangladesh, there are some cultural and social similarities between these two countries. For instance, there are many common names and surnames between Kosovo and Bangladesh. It is interesting that my great grandfather Abdulmajid Hamid Uzeyir and Honorable President of Bangladesh bear almost the same name, isn’t it? Besides the socio-cultural texture, I’m also thinking about symbols and concepts that can bring our countries closer. I have noticed similarities between the symbolic meaning of the Royal Bengal Tiger and the Eagle. The tiger symbolizes nobility, will, courage and strength. The Eagle symbolizes the exact meanings to the Kosovars.
It is indeed a great blessing to have the comfort of researching the possibilities of cooperation between these two noble countries, which are always constructive in foreign policy and prioritize peace before anything else. It is very inspiring to witness that the political leaders of the two countries are extremely sincere and determined about bilateral relations.
What have we done in this short period? What more can we accomplish?
The Kosovo Declaration of Independence was adopted in 2008. Less than 13 year is a very short time for the history of the States. Our country was recognized by Bangladesh in 2017. We established diplomatic relations in 2018. We opened the Embassy in Dhaka in 2019. In 2020, we signed our first bilateral agreement and made official initiatives in different fields like culture, economy, institutional cooperation etc. Hopefully with the end of the pandemic in 2021, alongside Bangladesh's 50th anniversary of independence, several agreements are expected to be signed and, in this way, we can create an environment that will deepen the relations between the two countries.
There is a very favorable ground for increasing cooperation between Kosovo and Bangladesh. Both countries have young and dynamic populations. One, as well as the other, have achieved a consistent economic growth trend in recent years. Most important of all, there is a strong will to increase cooperation in both countries.
What will our cooperation achieve in upcoming period?
By taking tangible steps to deepen our cooperation, we will have the opportunity for a short time at least to double our trade, which is currently around 11 million Euro. Co-investments will offer us opportunities for both the development and creation of jobs. On another side, our cultural cooperation will enable us to know each other better. Leveraging each other's institutional experience will help us to develop and build the capacities of our institutions. Our steps and cooperation in the field of security will contribute to global peace and security. Whether for official or touristic purposes, the increase of mutual visits allows us to discover our potential cooperation in different fields, which will allow us to interact more and to deepen our relationships.
Due to feedback, I have witnessed that Bangladesh needs a special and friendly country like Kosovo which is located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, Southeast Europe. On the other side, Kosovo with the opening of the Embassy in Dhaka confirmed her will to deepen relations and friendship with the beautiful friendly country like Bangladesh in South Asia.
We cannot predict exactly how long the pandemic will last. However, we need to be optimistic in any case. We could utilize the process efficiently to sign a series of agreements that will put our future cooperation on a more concrete and solid basis. Kosovars have always been grateful to Bangladesh for their role and support in the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. Our governments and institutions have to build up cooperation that will reflect in the best way of mutual respect and closeness of our countries. I am confident that the abovementioned targets will be best fulfilled with the existing willpower.
The author is the Ambassador of Republic of Kosovo to The People’s Republic of Bangladesh