Turkey has no position on political parties in Bangladesh, he says

Turkish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mustafa Osman Turan has listed two watershed moments of solidarity that elevated the relations between Bangladesh and Turkey to a new height and could make it stronger with the exchange of high-level visits in the coming days.

He said there are some circles that do not want to see Bangladesh and Turkey stay so close but Turkey will not fall into that trap if there is any attempt to spoil the "long-standing and deep-rooted" relations.

"There may be some disagreements, which are sometimes unfortunately misinterpreted, but we are too close," said the ambassador without naming the circles. "You can interpret it as you hear it. I am not here to name names."

Ambassador Turan made the remarks while interacting with the members of the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) at the embassy on November 24.

DCAB Vice-President Md Mahfuzur Rahman Mishu and General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke.

Referring to the two significant moments of solidarity, he said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was one of the first world leaders to send a strong message of solidarity to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the "very unfortunate coup attempt" in Turkey in 2016.

"No other countries, not even Turkey's allies in Europe, sent a message to the Turkish government but Bangladesh did. That shows how close the two countries are."

Referring to the second moment of solidarity between the two countries, the envoy said Turkey's First Lady Emine Erdogan visited Bangladesh immediately after the Rohingya crisis had begun in 2017.

"Probably Turkey is the country which understands Bangladesh the best when it comes to hosting over a million Rohingya refugees. We are hosting more than 4 million refugees," he mentioned.

The ambassador said they are very much present on the ground in Cox's Bazar to support the Rohingyas and the host communities. "However, repatriation of the Rohingyas should be the real solution to the crisis."

There was a strain on bilateral relations as Turkey reacted following the execution of war criminals and top Jamaat leaders who had assisted the Pakistan army and participated in genocide during the nine-month Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 and committed crimes against humanity.

About Turkey's current position on Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, the ambassador said they do not have a position on political parties in Bangladesh. "We have a position on our bilateral relations."

Ambassador Turan said it is up to Bangladesh and its people how they will treat political parties and Turkey respects Bangladesh's position as a friendly country.

He said Turkey and Bangladesh enjoy long-standing and deep-rooted relations and nothing can change that.

Responding to a question on a high-level visit, the ambassador said President Erdogan will visit Bangladesh to take relations to the next stage. "We are working on it and trying to decide the best time to make that happen."

Also, he said they see no obstacles to further improving the relations between the two countries. "We should have some highest level bilateral visits at the level of the president and prime minister."

When such visits take place, the ambassador said, the relations will certainly become stronger with the signing of many bilateral and business deals. "Our relations are gradually growing."

Defence Cooperation

Ambassador Turan said his country always offers joint ventures or technology transfer and noted that Turkey does not attach any political conditions when it sells defence equipment to Bangladesh or other countries.

"Turkey always provides maintenance, spare parts and there are no political conditions attached...we see this as a long term partnership, we see this as reflection of our deep level of political relationship as well," he said, mentioning that there is a long-term defence partnership with Bangladesh.

Ambassador Turan said Turkey has made big progress in defence industry in the last 15 years against the backdrop that the advanced economies always attached some political conditions when it came to defence purchase and that is something that prompted Turkey to be self-sufficient.

"We're able to be self-sufficient in 75 percent of our defence industry. We can manufacture almost anything," he said, adding that Bangladesh and Turkey have a comprehensive defence partnership.

The Ambassador said Turkey had delivered Multi-Launcher Rockets to Bangladesh and that it is keen to have joint ventures including in ship building.

Asked about specific defence equipment, the Ambassador said there are several conversations between various Turkish companies and Bangladesh counterparts. So I'm not able to give any specific details of the products."

The Turkish chief of Naval Force will visit Bangladesh at the end of this month and Turkish President Erdogan is also likely to visit Bangladesh at a time convenient to both sides.

Ambassador Turan said the trade between the two countries was $850 million two years back but now it has risen to $1.2 billion. The two countries have a target to take the bilateral trade volume to $3 billion.

The Turkish envoy said Bangladesh has become an important player in Asia, with its rising economy and the geostrategic location.

Bangladesh can increase its exports to Turkey in the areas of IT services, pharmaceutical products, jute and even readymade garments, he said.

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