Oslo, 28 March 2018: Bangladesh and Norway committed to collaborate comprehensively to develop the maritime sector of Bangladesh. Both sides also underscored the need for establishing a resident Bangladesh Mission in Oslo to realize the full potential of bilateral relations.
This came during the official visit of Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Md. Shahidul Haque to Oslo at the invitation of his Norwegian counterpart Wegger Strommen, Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, to co-chair the political consultations between the two countries on 28 June 2018. Bangladesh delegation was comprised of, among others, Bangladesh Ambassador to Norway (with residence in Stockholm) Md. Nazmul Islam and Director General (West Europe and the EU) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Khorshed A. Khastagir.
Rohingya crisis was high on the agenda. Bangladesh Foreign Secretary briefed his Norwegian counterpart about the state of play of this humanitarian catastrophe. Secretary General Strommen reiterated Norwegian government´s deep appreciation for Bangladesh´s commendable role, particularly Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, for providing shelter to 1.1 million displaced Rohingyas, in the wake of mass atrocities committed by Myanmar security forces and Buddhist extremists since August 2017. Secretary General Strommen stressed on the need of protection for the Rohingyas in Myanmar, respect for their fundamental human rights, a lasting solution to their citizenship issues and their right to return to their homes in Myanmar. He further emphasized the need for quick and full implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Foreign Secretary Haque gratefully acknowledged Norway´s deep political and humanitarian support for this persecuted people and stressed the need for sustained and intensified international pressure on Myanmar for a durable solution of this protracted crisis, whereby the Rohingyas could return to their ancestral homes in the Northern Rakhine State of Myanmar.
During the consultations, the two sides discussed the whole range of bilateral as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest, particularly maritime sector, trade and investment, regional connectivity/ economic initiatives, global compact on migration, Brexit. They also exchanged views on evolving contemporary geopolitical issues.
Foreign Secretary Haque gratefully recalled Norway´s early recognition of the independence of People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 4 February 1972, including Norway´s long-standing post-war support to Bangladesh’s socio-economic development in key sectors such as rural development, human rights, primary and non-formal education, primary health care and gender equality, development of small and medium enterprises.
The two sides expressed satisfaction over the forty-six years of ever-growing relations that has set the relations between the two countries into a new trajectory for the 21st century as Norway is now engaging more as a partner in developing mutually win-win trade and investment partnerships.
The two sides affirmed their strong commitment to the implementation of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” including Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs and discussed ways and means to revitalize the bilateral relations in line with this historic global undertaking. Foreign Secretary Haque highlighted that there exists huge potential for mutually beneficial joint ventures or business opportunities in different emerging thrust sectors like offshore oil and gas, deep sea fishing, shipbuilding/recycling, ICT, renewable energy, blue economy and so on.
Further deepening of cooperation between the two countries at the United Nations and other international fora was also agreed upon. Following the consultations, the two sides signed Norway-Bangladesh Standard Operating Procedures for Identification and Return of Persons without an Authorization to Stay.
Foreign Secretary Haque called on Norwegian Foreign Minister Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide and discussed issues of mutual interest, particularly the Rohingya crisis. Foreign Minister Søreide reaffirmed Norway´s continued strong political and humanitarian support, until a durable solution is reached.
Foreign Secrtary Haque also held meetings with Norfund, Norway´s development finance institution which is maintaining a steady and growing investment portfolio in Bangladesh, particularly in the banking/financial institutions sector. He also visited the HQs of Telenor, Norway´s multinational telecommunications company and majority shareholder of Grameenphone, and exchanged views with its senior management about their future plans in Bangladesh.