National, Front Page

Sweden a ‘steadfast partner’ of Bangladesh

Published : 14 Dec 2022 10:02 PM

Sweden has been a 'steadfast partner' in Bangladesh's development trajectory in the last five decades, with active footprints in good governance, labour rights, trade, investment, disaster risk reduction, environmental protection, education, cultural cooperation, and humanitarian assistance.

State Minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam made the comment at a reception on the occasion of Lucia, as well as the celebration of 50 years of bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Sweden on Tuesday night. 

Sweden's Ambassador to Bangladesh, Alexandra Berg von Linde, hosted the reception.

The state minister said Bangladesh looks forward to Sweden's continued support to make the LDC graduation smooth and sustainable. He expressed hope that Bangladesh's onward march to becoming a reliable partner in the global supply chain can be supported by Sweden.

State Minister Alam reaffirmed the pledge to work together with Sweden for the collective well-being of shared humanity and hoped that the relations between Bangladesh and Sweden would continue to grow in depth and dimensions in the coming days.

Lucia is an old tradition celebrated all over Sweden in the making of Christmas. As a part of this, Sweden Embassy in Dhaka organised the celebration. Diplomats, journalists, and political leaders, among others, were present on the occasion.

The State Minister said that Lucia reception marks the end of the year, and looking back on 2022, Sweden and Bangladesh relations have strengthened, with new avenues of cooperation emerging as well.

He recalled Sweden was among the first European countries to have recognised an independent Bangladesh in early 1972.

 The government and people of Sweden stood by Bangladesh as the country embarked on a difficult reconstruction and rehabilitation journey under the leadership of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Ambassador Alexandra Berg von Linde said that celebrating 50 years of bilateral relations has been a milestone, also mentioning that Sweden was one of the first European countries to recognize Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign state.

“50 years is an excellent opportunity to reflect. On what has been – and what is to come. During these past decades, Sweden is proud to have both witnessed the impressive development journey of Bangladesh, and to some extent also contributed to it. Our partnership is in transition. At the outset, our relations focused on humanitarian support. This later shifted into development cooperation, that has had long-term impacts in many areas. Today, we are glad to also see an increased focus on expanding our trade and commercial relations, with a focus on sustainability, where Sweden and Swedish companies have a lot to offer. As our countries have evolved, so has our partnership – and it continues to grow,” said the Ambassador.

At the event at Bay’s Gallery, the Embassy of Sweden also showcased an Exhibition called “50 years through 50 voices” that included a range of stories that captures the broad, deep and rich history of the two countries.

“In this exhibition, you will read stories that are interesting, exciting, moving and sometimes dramatic and personal. All of which have contributed to advancing our relations. This is by no means our entire common story - these voices are joined by so many more. Because we look forward to continuing to strengthen our relations for many years to come”, said H.E. Alexandra Berg von Linde, Ambassador of Sweden to Bangladesh

The reception also included a cultural program.

 Santa Lucia is commonly seen as the “bearer of light and hope” in the dark and cold Swedish winters. 

The tradition has it that Lucia leads a procession wearing a white, full-length gown and candles in her hair, followed by her handmaidens, also carrying candles and men and boys carrying stars. Everything while singing classical Christmas-songs.

“For many of us I dare say, Lucia comes with a message of peace and of hope. A message that light shall prevail and that after dark nights comes bearings of lighter times. Which, in the world of today, is certainly reason enough to celebrate,” said the Swedish Ambassador before welcoming a traditional Swedish Lucia procession on the stage.