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BIMSTEC leaders vow to fight pandemic together

Published : 05 Jun 2020 10:23 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 08:46 PM

Heads of member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) including Bangladesh have pledged to fight off the coronavirus pandemic together using the 23 years old platform of seven littoral countries.

They issued separate messages ahead of the 23rd BIMSTEC Day to be celebrated on Saturday. There will be no event due to the pandemic.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are the members of the regional organisation that started its journey on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration for technical and economic cooperation.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina:

The prime minister extended the ‘warmest felicitations’ to the governments and the people of the BIMSTEC member states on the joyous occasion.

“I also extend my special greetings to the Secretary-General of BIMSTEC and the officials of the BIMSTEC Secretariat,” she wrote in her message.

“I am pleased to observe that BIMSTEC has come a long way in its commitment to harness shared and accelerated growth through intimate cooperation in different areas of common interests.

“I firmly believe that BIMSTEC will advance in accelerated pace towards making a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Bay of Bengal Region as we agreed in the 4th BIMSTEC Summit along with the BIMSTEC Leaders.

“The COVID-19 pandemic posed the world a serious challenge.
“It will leave long-lasting multiple impacts on the lives and living of people of this region causing repercussions in the economic and socials progress.

“BIMSTEC forum provides an excellent platform to combat the devastating impact of COVID-I9.

“We should not leave any stone unturned to utilize this platform in addressing the challenges of the post-COVID-19 era.

“We are also celebrating the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who for the first time had dreamt of working together with the neighbors in the region for collective progress.

“Regional cooperation has since been a part of our constitution and foreign policy priorities.

As a founding member of BIMSTEC and host of BIMSTEC Secretariat and in the spirit of pursuing regional cooperation, Bangladesh is committed to closely work with all BIMSTEC Members on all areas of cooperation including the promotion of trade and investment cooperation, strengthening energy cooperation, increasing connectivity and people-to-people contact, disaster management, and public health, combating terrorism and extremism, dealing with the adverse effects of climate change and poverty alleviation.

“On this very auspicious occasion, I wish BIMSTEC all the success in its future endeavors,” Hasina wrote.

“Let us all work together with the noble mission to transform BIMSTEC into a strong, effective, result-oriented, and mutually beneficial organization for the 1.5 billion people of the BIMSTEC region.”

Prime Minister of Bhutan Lotay Tshering:

The Bhutanese prime minister in his message said: Today, as we observe the founding day of BIMSTEC amidst the ongoing global battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, I wish to take this opportunity to convey Bhutan’s sincere prayers and well wishers to the governments and more than 1.5 billion citizens of the BIMSTEC Region.

“I am pleased to congratulate the governments of BIMSTEC Member States for their success in dealing with the current public health crisis in their respective countries.

“As a region, we have shown our support and commitment to the health and welfare of our peoples, and we must continue to strive together until we have overcome this crisis.

“On 6th June 1997, BIMSTEC was founded with a vision to foster and enhance mutual beneficial cooperation in the BIMSTEC region.

“BIMSTEC has come a long way since its inception and today we can confidently look ahead to further improve cooperation under the various sectors of BIMSTEC cooperation.

“In conclusion, on this special day for BIMSTEC, I would like to reaffirm the commitment of the Royal Government of Bhutan to BIMSTEC,” he wrote.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi:

On the occasion of the 23rd BIMSTEC Day, I convey warm felicitations to the leaders and people of BIMSTEC countries.

Over the years, BIMSTEC has proved to be an effective bridge between South and South East Asia, reinforcing the traditional bonds of mutual goodwill and shared cultural heritage.

The continued strengthening of BIMSTEC in recent times has brought our countries even closer together with the common objective of building a more secure and prosperous Bany of Bengal region.

For India, BIMSTEC is also a natural choice for its key foreign policy priorities of ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East’.

I warmly recall the presence of leaders from all BIMSTEC countries at the swearing-in ceremony of our government in May last year. It was a gesture of friendship that I will forever cherish.

The world is currently fighting the common challenge of Covid-19 pandemic.

No individual country can, by itself, overcome its huge consequences. In our common endeavour to deal with this unprecedented threat, India stands ready to share its expertise, resources, capabilities, and knowledge with all countries in the region.

I take this opportunity to thank Sri Lanka, the current Chair of BIMSTEC, for steering various meetings in an extremely productive manners since the BIMSTEC Summit held in 2018. We also appreciate the role of the BIMSTEC Secretariat in coordinating diverse collaborative activities.

BIMSTEC holds great promise for the development and growth of the region.

I am confident that our cooperation in diverse areas would grow in the years to come in the spirit of the solidarity and mutual friendship, reads the Indian Prime Minister’s message.

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi:

On this auspicious occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the founding of the BIMSTEC, I take great pleasure in extending my warmest felicitation and best wishes to the peoples of BIMSTEC member states.

With its huge markets, and rich natural resources, BIMSTEC has vast potential for contributing towards the socio-economic development of the region.

Substantial progress has been made during the BIMSTEC’s 23-year journey since its inception, but there is much that still needs to be done to achieve its aims and purposes, guided by the principles of the 1997 Bangkok declaration.

Myanmar sees BIMSTEC as a key platform for the achievement of peace, prosperity and sustainability in the Bay of Bengal region, and we have been cooperating with fellow member states of the BIMSTEC in many areas of common interests.

I believe that we will be able to leverage regional cooperation more effectively, and respond to new and emerging challenges, including the current challenges of combating the Covid-19 pandemic, in a spirit of friendship, unity, solidarity and mutual understanding.

I am confident that our collective efforts to enhance partnerships and cooperation among BIMSTEC member states will bring peace and prosperity to all peoples in the region, reads her message.

Prime Minister of Nepal KP Sharma Oli:

Oli extended his warm greetings and felicitation to the fellow governments and peoples of BIMSTEC member countries.

“Twenty-three years ago, on 6 June 1997 our leaders signed the Bangkok Declaration with the aim of building a peaceful and prosperous Bay of Bengal.

“BIMSTEC is a home to about 1.5 billion people. It is a region with huge opportunities. Our common desire to delivering better opportunity and economic prosperity to our people has brought us together to establish this regional organization.

Today, BIMSTEC represents our collective hope for achieving economic growth, social progress, sustainable development and prosperity in our region.

These days, we are fighting the covid-19 pandemic. It has tested our ability and exposed our vulnerability. This trying time demands us to pool our strengths and build a better resilience across the region.

We face an increased level of uncertainty in the midst of this invisible enemy.

This is a time to stand united and fight the Covid-19 collectively. We must fight collectively and defeat this enemy.

Regional cooperation is one of the salient features of Nepal’s foreign policy.
The fourth BIMSTEC Summit held in Kathmandu envisions for a better institutional framework for this regional body.

The decision taken in Kathmandu Summit will go a long way in strengthening BIMSTEC through a solid legal and institutional basis.

The fifth BIMSTEC Summit to be held in Colombo will be a milestone for furthering regional cooperation.

Nepal is committed to work together with fellow member countries towards realising the objectives we have set for this regional body.

“May this special day inspire us more to further deepen our bond of friendship, amity, partnership and cooperation to build BIMSTEC as a genuine vehicle for achieving peace and prosperity in the region,” read his message.

President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa:

“I consider it a great privilege to convey greetings and best wishes of the government and the people of Sri Lanka on the happy occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the BIMSTEC,” he said in his message.

“Sri Lanka, a founder member of BIMSTEC, has supported all collective initiatives throughout the years and has been a partner in its progress in facilitating trade, economic development and people to people contact.

“As the current chair of BIMSTEC, Sri Lanka has endeavoured to strengthen institutional capacity of the organisation and convened three Permanent Working Committee meetings and the 20th senior officials’ meeting in 2019 and 2020 respectively where BIMSTEC Charter and rationalization of sectors and sub-sectors were finalized with a view to adopt at the 5th summit scheduled to be hosted in Sri Lanka later this year.

“Although, BIMSTEC member states represent 22 percent of the world’s population, it only contributes 4 percent to the world GDP.

“Therefore, I strongly believe that as an organisation well established and respected within the region, we could play a more proactive role in uplifting the economic development of member states by way of trade, exchange of technological advancements, and specially by developing human capital which is our collective strength.

“Furthermore, as a the lead country for Science, Technology and Innovations, Sri Lanka has an important role to play within BIMSTEC during and post Covid-19 pandemic which has affected member states adversely.

“I believe that only collective efforts based on cooperation can make the region flourish from the setbacks that has affected the very fabric of life and global supply chains.

“I reassure to all member states, Sri Lanka’s continued commitment to BIMSTEC and its objectives and wish the organisation all success,” reads his statement.