New challenges need developing countries to get together: Momen

Published : 12 Feb 2023 10:12 PM

Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen recently said the new challenges necessitated the developing countries to get together and adopt a holistic approach to prosperity, given the multitude of challenges they are beset with.

“We are now going through one of the most significant phases of human history having already experienced an unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic,” he said, while speaking on an issue titled ‘Shared Prosperity: A Vision for South Asia’ on February 4.

Addressing the 2023 Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at the BMICH, he said developing nations had also become victims of power rivalry between big and emerging economies. These realities underscored the need for closer collaboration among neighbours setting aside differences and learning from each other.

“Just as we showed our capacity to tame the pandemic, another challenge came our way – the armed conflict in Europe. This has not only slowed down our recovery from the havoc done by the pandemic but also caused a global economic recession due to an increase in energy and food prices and more importantly, disruption to the supply chain and financial transaction mechanism owing to sanctions,” he said.

“The problems have their roots in the historical baggage as well as the existing disparity in the regional structure. In addition, there are a number of outstanding issues and bilateral discords,” he said, adding that “One predominant characteristic is that our economies display greater interest in integrating with the global economy than with each other.”

The foreign minister said Bangladesh was pursuing a foreign policy based on neighbourhood diplomacy for amicable political relations with its South Asian neighbours, while conducting a balancing act on strategic issues based on the philosophy of “shared prosperity”.

Referring to humanitarian assistance of Bangladesh, Dr Momen said,  Bangladesh, within its limited resources, was always ready to stand by her neighbours in times of emergency, be it a natural calamity, pandemic or economic crisis.  He also said that it was in keeping with its philosophy of helping the neighbours in crisis that Bangladesh sent emergency medicines to Sri Lanka during the crisis last year and agreed to the currency SWAP arrangement.

“These symbolic gestures were not about our capacity, pride or mere demonstration, rather it was purely about our sense of obligation to our neighbours. We strongly believe that shared prosperity comes with shared responsibility and development in a single country of a particular region may not sustain if others are not taken along,” he said.

Dr. Momen shared some of his thought in the quest for shared prosperity and inclusive development that is needed to devise certain policies and implement those in a sustainable manner. 

At the beginning of his lecture, Dr. Momen paid tribute to Mr Kadirgamar, whom he referred to as one of Sri Lanka’s finest sons. He said, Lakshman Kadirgamar was a legal scholar and a leader par excellence. He served to raise the level of the political discourse of Sri Lanka, both at home and abroad. His assassination was one of the most tragic losses for the country.