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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

BIMSTEC celebrates its 25th anniversary

Diplomatic Correspondent

The Secretariat of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in Dhaka celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the regional organisation on BIMSTEC Day.

The celebration included a flag hoisting ceremony in the morning of June 6 at the Secretariat, and an Official Reception at the Dhaka Sheraton in the evening.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen addressed the occasion virtually, as the Chief Guest, while Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Planning Minister MA Mannan, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam, and Secretary General of SAARC Esala Weerakoon graced the occasion along with members of the diplomatic corps, officials of the Government of Bangladesh, media personnel, and friends of BIMSTEC.

Welcoming the guests, the Secretary General of BIMSTEC Tenzin Lekphell traced the evolution of BIMSTEC over the last 25 years from the signing of the Bangkok Declaration on June 6 in 1996, and highlighted milestones such as the establishment of the Secretariat in Dhaka in 2014 and the signature of the BIMSTEC Charter during the Fifth Summit in Colombo on March 30, 2022.

Stating that in this context, crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic also present opportunities, the Secretary General emphasised that BIMSTEC holds much promise as a platform for intensifying regional cooperation including strengthening intra-regional supply chains and trade.

Flagging the adoption of the BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity which was adopted during the recent Fifth Summit, the Secretary General expressed hope that implementation of its components would help ensure the achievement of the region’s aspiration for a truly connected Bay of Bengal region.

Joining the gathering virtually, the Chief Guest Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen stated that Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, who was the Head of Government of Bangladesh at the time of BIMSTEC’s founding had decided to take Bangladesh to the BIMSTEC forum following the dream of the Founding Father of the Nation Bangabandhu SheikhMujibur Rahman to engage Bangladesh in working together with countries in the neighbouring region for collective benefit.

He reaffirmed Bangladesh’s commitment to strengthen BIMSTEC to explore the highest degree of peace, progress and prosperity for the peoples of the region. The Foreign Minister expressed the hope that connectivity in the region would one day lead to visa-free mobility as well as free mobility of goods and services, and technology and capital.

The evening included the launch of a publication titled “25 Years of BIMSTEC – Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region”.

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