On Thursday, an engaging and exclusive discussion was held, titled “Talks with the Ambassador” at National Press Club, organized by Swadhinata Sangbadik Forum at 11:30 AM.
The discussion highlighted Russia’s historical support during Bangladesh’s liberation, emphasizing strong bilateral ties, economic collaborations despite challenges, and concerns over geopolitical issues like the Gaza conflict and Indo-Pacific rivalry. The discussion showcased the significance of ongoing projects such as the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant and potential areas for future cooperation, underlining the depth and importance of the Russia-Bangladesh relationship. Then, the recent pressing issues, such as the Gaza, the Ukrainian crisis and the situation in Indo-Pacific region was also discussed.
The discussion saw the esteemed presence of H.E. Aleksandar Mantytskiy, the Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh. Key guests included Shyamal Dutta, General Secretary of National Press Club, Prof. Dr. Sazzad Hossain, Member, University Grants Commission (UGC). The event was chaired by Khairul Alam, Joint Secretary, Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ).
While talking about the Bangladesh Russia relationship since Bangladesh’s independence, H.E. Aleksandar Mantytskiy mentioned, “In January 1972, the USSR (Union Soviet Socialist Republic) was one of the first countries to recognize Bangladesh’s independence. During the Moscow visit of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in March 1972, a number of fundamental intergovernmental agreements were signed, including the one on granting aid to restore normal navigation in the Chittagong port.”
“Since then, our relations have always been built on the principles of equality, mutual respect and consideration of each other’s interests”, he added.
“In September 2023, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Dhaka, where he was received by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and held talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart AK Abdul Momen, a historical visit from ministry of Russia after 52 years.” he further mentioned.
Speaking about economic cooperation, the Ambassador highlighted, “Bangladesh is Russia’s second largest trade partner in South Asia after India. Even the COVID-19 pandemic did not hinder it – in 2021, trade volume reached the historic height of $2,97 billion.”
On Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant’s contribution in Bangladesh, H.E. Aleksandar Mantytskiy said, “Rooppur helps to create more than 18 thousand workplaces for local people; dozens of Bangladeshi companies provide their services and materials for construction works. Rooppur NPP will increase the country’s GDP by 2%. Nuclear energy is environment friendly, produces no carbon emission and no pollution”.
He also condemned the attacks on Gaza and criticized the UN Security Council’s handling of resolutions and discussed the Western double standards in addressing conflicts and the Indo-Pacific region’s potential for rivalry rather than cooperation.
The ambassador further highlighted, “the Indian and Pacific Oceans should not be an arena of rivalry, but a zone of cooperation between states within the framework of such regional structures as ASEAN, IORA, SAARC and BIMSTEC”.
Praising Russia’s commitment towards Bangladesh, Khairul Alam stated, “The Soviet Union significantly assisted a newly born state in reviving its economy destroyed during the Liberation War and supported Dhaka in joining the UN”. “The Ghorashal and Siddhirganj power plants, the electrical equipment factory in Chittagong, which are still operating, were built with financial and technical assistance from the Soviet Union,” he said.
Shyamal Dutta said, “Genocide is going on in Gaza, where is the western country? From October 7th till today, 57 journalists died in Gaza.” He added, “I am not saying the statement from so called western media. If you see a small event in Bangladesh, you can see a statement next day within 5-6 hours.”
During a question on Bangladesh facing any financial stress from western countries, Aleksandar mentioned, “So called financial problems are not our concern but different sanctions can be introduced, we will not recognize those sanctions imposed by any western or other countries. We will be openly concerned if these sanctions come from the security council”.
The meeting was moderated by Sheikh Shahriar Zaman. PressXpress was the media partner of the event.