Statement by Rt. Hon. President Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari as Guest of Honour on the theme of “Nepal-Bangladesh Relations and Bangabandhu’s Birth Centenary” at a programme organized in Dhaka on the occasion of the Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
(Dhaka, Bangladesh, 22 March 2021)
Chief Guest of this Ceremony
His Excellency President Mohammad Abdul Hamid,
Chairperson of Bangabandhu Birth Centenary
Her Excellency Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the Chairperson of Bangabandhu Birth Centenary Celebration Committee for inviting me to speak to this august gathering.
I would like to extend sincere thanks to President of Bangladesh His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Abdul Hamid for inviting me to visit Bangladesh. It reflects the close and friendly relations existing between Nepal and Bangladesh. I am extremely pleased to participate in this programme organized to commemorate the birth centenary of Bangabandhu.
On the occasion of the celebration of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, I am very pleased to share my views on the theme of Nepal-Bangladesh Relations and Bangabandhu’s Birth Centenary.
As the President of Nepal, it is my first visit to this beautiful country. On my private visit, I have already been here before. During this period, I have found a lot of progress taking place in Bangladesh in terms of economic activities, development works and the enhancement of the people’s living standard. In the recent years, Bangladesh has successfully lifted a large population out of poverty through rapid economic growth and this trend is ongoing. I feel happy to witness these positive changes taking place in our friendly country and the life of its people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For a long time, Nepal and Bangladesh have continued to enjoy close, friendly and cooperative relationship. Geographically, our two countries are only a short distance away from each other. This geographical proximity, similar culture, tradition, mutual support and goodwill have firmly knotted the bilateral ties.
Nepal-Bangladesh relations have continued to grow ever since the establishment of the diplomatic relations on 08 April 1972.
Exchange of high-level visits has contributed to elevate our bilateral relationship to a new height. His Excellency President Hamid had visited Nepal in November 2019 and now I am here. Exchange of visits both at government and people’s levels has significantly been increased.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nepal and Bangladesh are rich countries in terms of natural and human resources, history, civilization, culture, and so on. Proper utilization of these valuable resources will be catalytic in transforming our development landscape, creating prosperity and happiness for our peoples.
We have been cooperating to enhance trade, transit, energy, connectivity, tourism, education, culture, and people-to people relations. We are actively engaged in promoting our common interest at multilateral forums through mutual support and cooperation. We need to advance our partnership in these areas.
The volume of bilateral trade at present is moderate with enough scope for its expansion. Nepal has an increasing trade deficit with Bangladesh. We need to minimize the trade deficit in order to make trade beneficial for both countries. Elimination of trade barriers, development of infrastructure and easy market access could significantly boost the trade relationship.
Energy is another important area for the expansion of cooperation between our two countries. The two countries have already signed an MoU on cooperation in power. Nepal’s hydropower and Bangladesh’s natural gas can be the game-changers for our development needs. For our energy trade, it is imperative to strengthen trilateral cooperation among Nepal, Bangladesh and India.
Connectivity is essential for smooth and wider interactions and engagements between our two countries. With a view to enhancing the connectivity networks, we can add more flights to the existing Kathmandu-Dhaka sector and also connect by air our major regional cities like Saidpur of Bangladesh and Biratnagar of Nepal. Likewise, linkages of Nepal’s rivers with that of India and Bangladesh will help develop waterways. Through this, connectivity can be improved and the cost of transport and trade can be reduced. Upgrading of roadways and development of railways and their linkages can also contribute meaningfully to this process. In this context, I am happy to state that the process of including Rohanpur as a “Port of Call” for promoting bilateral trade through railway transit is moving ahead.
Given the natural beauty, rich historical and archaeological sites and cultural heritages of the two countries, both Nepal and Bangladesh can enormously benefit from the expansion of mutual cooperation in tourism sector. Bangladeshi tourists can relish Nepal’s snow-capped mountains, lush green valleys, rich bio-diversity, and the visit of important historical, archaeological and cultural sites. Likewise, Nepali tourists can visit beautiful sea beaches, mangrove forest and cultural and historical sites of Bangladesh.
Currently, a good number of Nepali students have been pursuing higher education in Bangladesh, especially in the medical and engineering fields. Similarly, Bangladeshi students are having studies in Nepal in Buddhism, pharmacy and others fields. Enhancement of quality education, including providing required support to the students, will help further expand bilateral cooperation in this sector.
Both Nepal and Bangladesh have been adversely affected by the impacts of climate change. The high lands of Nepal and the low lands of Bangladesh have been bearing the huge brunt of the climate crisis without being a cause for it. Nepal’s Himalayan ice is getting melted and the sea level of the Bay of Bengal is rising. It has resulted into environmental catastrophes like floods and droughts, with erratic climate. In order to address this problem, we need to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including mobilizing international support.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very happy to know about the rapid development taking place in Bangladesh in accordance with Bangabandhu’s vision of Sonar Bangla (Golden Bangladesh). As a close friend, Nepal would like to see continued economic progress and development of Bangladesh.
I deeply admire the mature guidance provided by His Excellency President Md. Abdul Hamid to realize Bangabandhu’s dream of beautiful and prosperous Bangladesh.
I further take this opportunity to express my belief and best wishes to Her Excellency Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is not only an able daughter of Bangabandhu but also a capable woman leader of this region, in her continued pursuit for the realization of Bangladesh’s aspiration of Sonar Bangla.
As the celebrations on Bangabandhu’s birth centenary is going on, I consider the continued progress of Bangladeshi people a fitting tribute to his contributions to the nation building process of Bangladesh. It was he who pioneered the independence movement of Bangladesh ever since his youth. He was a charismatic leader, well-organizer, person of determination and courage and stout freedom fighter.
Also, in my country, the Government of Nepal has dedicated its entire efforts towards realizing the common national aspiration of Samriddha Nepal, Sukhi Nepali (Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali). With our incessant efforts, Nepal will achieve the status of a middle-income country before long. Our efforts are focused on turning Nepal a prosperous nation. I believe that the development efforts of Nepal and Bangladesh will contribute to socio-economic progress of whole South Asia.
Bangabandhu’s incessant struggle gave birth to Bangladesh. He had showed unswerving leadership and unremitting action for it. In acknowledgement of his contribution, he was accorded the honoured title of Bangabandhu (Friend of Bangladeshi people) by then All Parties Students Action Committee in 1969. The entire Bangladesh instantly accepted it.
Bangabandhu had deep love and esteem for Bangla language. He was the person who championed the cause for the protection and promotion of Bangla language with the support of Bangladeshi people.
We also learn about his great compassion for the weak, downtrodden, poor and other citizens in difficulty.
As an excellent orator, organizer and crusader, Bangabandhu won the hearts and minds of the people of Bangladesh and attained the goal of creating a new nation. He is a revered leader of this region.
I have great pleasure to say that Nepal was the seventh country to recognize Bangladesh. Bangabandhu also expanded the reach of Bangladesh to the international community during his short period of leadership of the country after independence.
Now, we are happy to see the celebrations of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu across Bangladesh in recognition of his role, contribution and sacrifice for the independence of Bangladesh.
I would like to extend congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the independence of Bangladesh.
With these words, I extend congratulations to the Government and the people of Bangladesh on the occasion of the birth centenary of Bangabandu, the Father of the Nation. I would like to conclude my statement by extending best wishes for the continued progress, prosperity and happiness of the friendly country Bangladesh.
Long Live Nepal-Bangladesh Relationship!