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Statement by H.E. Mr.

Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP

Hon’ble Foreign Minister of Bangladesh
at the Retreat Session of 25th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
4 August 2018, Singapore.

Your Excellency Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan

Distinguishes colleagues

Good Afternoon,

I am delighted to be here at the 25th ASEAN Regional Forum being held in Singapore
and taking this opportunity to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, the people and the
Government of Singapore for bringing us together at the ASEAN Regional Forum and
for the warm hospitality extended to us. The Gala Performance presented last night
reflected the true essence of ASEAN. ASEAN has tremendous achievements during its
journey over last fifty years. Many of the achievements of ASEAN are worth emulating
by others. Bangladesh has been happy to contribute in a modest way through our
participation in the ARF. We value our partnership in ARF process as well.

Since its inception in 1994, ARF has played a positive role in promoting dialogue and
cooperation on political and security issues of common interest and concern in the
Asia-Pacific region. It has brought together countries with very diverse political system,
military capabilities and level of economic development.


We live in a globalized and inter-dependent world where issues like terrorism, climate
change, transnational crimes, human rights, cyber crimes, forcibly displaced people etc.
are dominating world affairs which transcends borders, barriers and boundaries. In this
backdrop, ARF provides a setting through which we can exchange ideas and opinions.
Some of the challenges facing the ASEAN region are unique and can only be resolved
through mutual trust, cooperation and understanding.

In this august occasion I would like to inform you that Bangladesh with its democratic,
secular and inclusive identity has been contributing to global peace, progress and
prosperity as visioned by our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman. Recently we have graduated from least developed to developing country’s
status. The uncompromising policy of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pursuing a
zero tolerance policy towards terrorism and violent extremism is widely recognized. We
want to extend our support and cooperation to the various ARF processes for
countering terrorism and related issues.


You all know that Bangladesh is currently hosting 1.1 million forcibly displaced
Rohingya people of Myanmar and providing them all of their basic needs with the
support of the international community. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister has opened the
border for these hapless people out of humanitarian consideration. Bangladesh is keen
to solve this problem diplomatically with good neighbourly spirit. Despite various
challenges to its economy, ecology and overall societal impact, Bangladesh took a bold
and humanitarian decision to shelter them for the sake of humanity. Prime Minister
Sheikh Hasina is now being called as “Mother of Humanity.”

Bangladesh’s response to the crisis is premised on the fact that the Rohingya problem
is essentially a political one which has its origin in their motherland, therefore, its
solution needs to be found there. Also, this is not a problem between Bangladesh and
any other State. Rather it is a problem between the Rohingya community and the State
authorities where they live, which has spilled over into Bangladesh. Our country seeks a
peaceful solution to the crisis and for this reason Bangladesh signed the instruments on
repatriation with Myanmar so that the forcibly displaced Rohingyas can return to their
place of abode in safety, security and dignity as well as to resettle and reintegrate into
their original society. Implementation of the repatriation process now entirely depends
on the sincerity and seriousness of Myanmar. But I am sorry to say that we are not
getting sufficient positive response from Myanmar so as to these displaced people are
convinced to return to their home.
Distinguished colleagues,

Bangladesh wants to see the peaceful environment in the Korea Peninsula and
emphasizing constructive dialogue of the stakeholders where there is no place of threat
from any quarter. We settled our Maritime disputes with India and Myanmar in a
peaceful way and the international community praised it. I would like to urge the Forum
to increase cooperation and strengthen legal frameworks in responding to a number of
other emerging non-traditional security challenges such as degradation of marine
environment, trafficking of illicit drugs, armed robbery at sea, human trafficking, cyber
crimes and illegal fishing in this region.


For Bangladesh the climate change is an existential question. Our country being one of
the most climate vulnerable countries with a population of 160 million, remains
committed to the Paris Climate Agreement. Bangladesh would continue its efforts with
all friends and partners around the globe to mobilize domestic and international
resources in order to secure a green and safe planet for ourselves and for our future


In the end, I would like to recall that Asia is standing at a crossroad of history and
opportunities. Bangladesh considers it crucial to maintain regional peace, stability and
security if we are to attain an inclusive and sustainable economy. It is therefore
imperative that we work hand in hand with full candour which I believe lies at the core of
regionalism. Let us deliver this promise to our people. As we move along ARF, the
Forum would need to ponder over the ways to strengthen confidence building and
preventive diplomacy through its work.

I thank you all.