Bangladesh’s joining the Saudi-led military alliance ‘initially’ surprised Russia: Envoy
Bangladesh’s joining the Saudi Arabia-led military alliance to combat terrorism “initially astonished” Russia, says its outgoing ambassador to Dhaka.
But, Alexander Nikolaev said Moscow is not worried now over the present activity of the military coalition.He said the foreign ministry had assured Moscow many times the Bangladeshi troops will be deployed following UN Security Council resolutions.
This coalition also loses significance after the recent joint statement of the US and the Russia on the cessation of hostilities in Syria. “Despite our initial astonishments upon (Bangladesh’s) joining this Saudi-Arabia coalition, we are not, for the moment, taking care about further development of this coalition activities,” he said.
The ambassador, who will leave Dhaka on Mar 10 ending his four-year tenure, was interacting with journalists at the Diplomatic Correspondents’ Association, Bangladesh's (DCAB) 'DCABTalk' on Sunday. DCAB President Angur Nahar Monty and General Secretary Pantho Rahman conducted the discussion at the National Press Club.
Dhaka announced joining the coalition in December last year when Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir made a request to his Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali.
But the foreign ministry never said they would deploy troops under this coalition. The Russian ambassador said currently, there are three such coalitions to fight against terrorism, including the Saudi-led one.
But he said Russia always gets support from its “partner” Bangladesh in the UN and other international platforms. “Moscow sees Dhaka as a reliable and time-tested partner in promoting multi-polar global architecture and fair economic and financial system,” he said.
The ambassador touched on issues of international politics and relations with Bangladesh during his interactions. Referring to the Syrian crisis, Nikolaev said last year had been challenging for diplomacy globally.
He said at the end of the year, Bangladesh had also found itself in “an intrigued international environment”as he referenced the murder of foreigners and subsequent travel alerts and statements by the Western countries.
Bangladesh, he said, had “come under the kind of international pressure (at the time) which hampers its development efforts”.
“We see Bangladesh as a very promising country. We believe that it will be able to achieve its development goals by 2021 and 2030, and Russia remains its friend and partner in its efforts,”Nikolaev said.
He said he would be leaving Dhaka with “a great sense of satisfaction of a well-done job”. During his tenure, the ambassador said, the bilateral trade made visible progress, and Russia became the “most significant” investor in the energy sector which is “a crucial factor” for sustainable development of any nation.
“Cultural contacts have started blossoming. Education cooperation is on the rise. Both countries share the same opinion in the UN and different international platforms. “I think my new ambassador will face a big challenge to move further what has been done in recent years. I am sure he’ll succeed in the mutual interest of the governments,” he said.
Dhaka-Moscow relations go back a long way as Russia supported the 1971 War of Independence. The relations took a new turn in the last four years, particularly after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Moscow visit in 2013, first in 40 years by a Bangladesh leader.
Bangladesh embarked on an ambitious nuclear power plant pact with Russia, apart from deals related to the purchase of military weapons. Ambassador Nikolaev said this nuclear power deal marked the beginning of a “new stage” of relations. He once again said this project has support of the other political parties.
“I recall, a couple of year back, a proud chairperson of the BNP had told me personally that initially the idea of nuclear power plant was floated long ago during the time of BNP in power,” he said. He said the political ties between Dhaka and Moscow were getting “stronger day by day”.
The relations with the present government were “excellent” and this was in the interest of both nations. He believed the relations would continue to grow under any government.
The ambassador maintained that Russia never interferes in domestic affairs of a country as it “respects sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all the countries”.
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