Turkey's strategically important location, straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, has given it major influence in the region - and control over the entrance to the Black Sea.
Bangladesh and Turkey are showing much interest in broadening relations as two modern Muslim countries with people-to-people contacts spanning the age of Islam, and now exploring new areas of cooperation.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen undertook a four-day visit to Turkey last week despite the coronavirus pandemic. It demonstrates the importance that Bangladesh attaches to its relations with Turkey.
On September 14, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina virtually inaugurated Bangladesh’s newly constructed Embassy complex in Ankara from her official residence Ganobhaban. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Bangladesh counterpart Dr Momen joined from Ankara, Turkey.
On the occasion, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is keen to boost its relationship with Turkey for mutual benefits as it is deeply rooted in shared history, faith and traditions based on trust and confidence.
Prime Minister Hasina recalled her visit to Ankara at the invitation of then Prime Minister and now President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan on April 13, 2012 and said the formal diplomatic ties between the two countries began in 1974.
On behalf of the Bangladesh government, people and herself, she thanked the government and the people of Turkey for extending support to Bangladesh on various issues, including the Rohingya crisis.
Prime Minister Hasina hoped the formal opening of the Turkish Embassy building in Dhaka also would take place soon with the presence of President Erdogan during the ongoing Mujib Borsho.
She also thanked Turkey for repairing Bangladeshi Navy ship that was damaged in the recent blasts in Lebanon.
Turkish President Erdogan highly appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for providing shelter to persecuted Rohingya people in Cox's Bazar district noting that Turkey will stay beside Bangladesh on Rohingya issue.
He assured of Turkish support to Bangladesh and staying beside Bangladesh on all possible bilateral and international efforts to resolve the crisis.
Turkish President Erdogan said Turkey will continue assisting Bangladesh on Rohingya issue and they will work in partnership with International Court of Justice (ICJ). Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas.
Erdogan's Dhaka Visit Planned
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Bangladesh as soon as COVID-19 pandemic is over either to attend the finale event of "Mujib Borsho" on March 17 event or D-8 Summit.
The Turkish President accepted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's invitation to visit Bangladesh. If he cannot come to Bangladesh due to COVID-19 pandemic, he shall participate through technology.
Bangladesh is celebrating "Mujib Barsho" marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
On September 16, Foreign Minister Dr Momen met the Turkish President at the Presidential Complex in Ankara and discussed various issues of mutual interest including visit of Turkish President to Bangladesh.
Dhaka termed the meeting with the Turkish President "very cordial" that lasted almost an hour. It is understood that they discussed important global and regional issues apart from bilateral relations.
The Turkish President conveyed his greetings to President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and wished their good health.
President Erdogan appreciated the rapid economic development and effective handling of Covid-19 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Turkey would send more medical equipment for Bangladesh.
D-8 Summit in Dhaka
The Turkish President suggested expansion of D-8 through inclusion of new members.
Bangladesh wants to host the 10th D-8 Summit and relevant events in December 2020 or January 2021. It will be held virtually in the context of the post-COVID19 ‘new normal’ scenario, if the situation does not improve.
The Summit will be followed by a virtual 'Leaders Retreat', including a virtual visit to the Rohingya Camps in Cox’s Bazar.
D-8, also known as Developing-8, is an organisation for development cooperation among Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.
In April, Bangladesh proposed postponement of D-8 Summit, which was scheduled to take place in Dhaka at the end of May.
Enhanced Trade, Investment
Turkey wants to boost trade and investment with Bangladesh opening new avenues of cooperation between the two countries.
The Turkish President laid emphasis on expanding trade and commerce between the two countries and put forward some proposals.
He suggested investment in new products like textiles, pharmaceuticals and other sectors avoiding tariff barriers.
The Turkish President proposed Bangladesh to allocate land for building a modern hospital in Bangladesh with the Turkish financial support.
He assured Bangladesh of providing more Turkish support to Bangladesh amid COVID-19 pandemic.
The Turkish President expressed satisfaction over regular interactions between the two countries under Foreign Office Construction (FOC).
He also agreed on forming required forums to continue high level discussions between the two countries.
Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said Bangladesh and Turkey would aim for cooperation in all fields, including defence, and the wider economy.
"We would increase our trade volume of US$2 billion," he said during his meeting with Dr Momen.
The Turkish Foreign Minister assured Dr Momen of increasing their investment in Bangladesh.
The two countries decided to hold the Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) and Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meetings at the earliest.
The Turkish Foreign Minister expressed interest to give more ventilators and masks for Bangladesh as support to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
If Bangladesh provides them a list of export items, Turkey will encourage their business houses to increase trade.
Bangladesh thanked the Turkish President for assisting Bangladesh in repairing its damaged Frigate in Lebanon, for setting up of hospital for the Rohingya, the Turkish First Lady's visit, assisting in constructing the Embassy complex and also the Turkish Foreign Minister’s presence as special guest in the inauguration programme.
The Turkish Foreign Minister will also visit Dhaka to inaugurate the newly built Turkish Embassy Complex here.
Turkey wants to explore opportunities in agro processing industries, halal meat factories, and participate in mega projects - highways, air ports construction. Turkey also wants investment in SEZs, Hi-Tech parks in Bangladesh.
The Turkish President said there are a lot of potentials and two countries should work together and follow up. Turkey is with Bangladesh on climate issues.
Erdogan lauds Hasina
The formal inauguration of the newly constructed Turkish Embassy in Dhaka will be opened at the end of this year.
Expressing satisfaction over the existing friendly relationship, the two countries hoped that the ongoing cooperation in the areas of education, culture and defence will be strengthened further in the coming days.
The two countries laid emphasis on taking new initiatives including exchange of trade delegations and hosting trade fairs and exhibitions.
To achieve vision 2021 and 2041, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, Bangladesh is set to expand its global outreach by establishing many more diplomatic offices.
The permanent Embassy complex in Ankara is a testimony to the priority Bangladesh attaches to boost further its friendship with Turkey. The recently built Turkish Embassy building in Dhaka also demonstrates the same sentiment.