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27 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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Bangladesh-Russia co-operation

Bangladesh will receive an amount of US $ 50 crore for technical research works to establish the first nuclear power plant at Rooppur of Pabna district
Dr Anu Mahmud
Bangladesh-Russia co-operation

(PART-I)

The relation between Bangladesh-Russia is a historical one. It has a long history. Soviet Union (USSR) stands by the side of Bangladesh during the revolution days in 1971. Soviet Union has extended its hand towards the achieving of independence of Bangladesh in global diplomacy. Soviet Union expoiled the attempt of Pakistan to stop the war of liberation by giving Veto twice in the Security Council of the United Nations taking stand in favour of liberation war of Bangladesh. Soviet Union also extended hands of cooperation to Bangladesh at post liberation period. A historical journey has been started through the historical visit of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a government tour of Soviet Union in 1972.

Bangabandhu has visited Russia with the expectation to build a new relation of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and also to express our gratitude for the effective contribution to our war of liberation. During the visit of Bangabandhu, an inter-governmental agreement on economic and technical cooperation, trade representation, cultural, education and scientific cooperation was signed.

Bangabandhu also approached the Soviet leadership during his visit with the request to assist in minesweeping of Chittagong port and cleaning of its sank ship and vessels in Kornofuli river.

The first Soviet minesweeper entered the port of Chittagong on April 26,1972. The works on minesweeping and recovering of sank ships were done in 26 months. During the operation, a senior sailor Yuri.V.Rodkin lost his life as a hero. His grave is situated on premises of Bangladesh Military Naval Academy.

The two-year demining operation began in 1972, 800 naval personnel, mostly from the Pacific Fleet, lived in Chittagong for the duration of the operation. Scaffold workers and divers worked tirelessly, putting their lives at risk  

Soviet Union has made an extra-ordinary assistance and cooperation in the reconstruction of newly born independent Bangladesh after the war of liberation. But unfortunately Bangladesh did not taken it into their memory about that contribution of Soviet Union. None of the government after brutal assassination of the father of the nation in 1975 did not take any steps to grow up the relation with Russia, the tested friend of Bangladesh. We want to renew and expand our relation with Russia with the zeal of Seventy One’s prelibation period. Friendship with all, conflict with none – under this concept of the father of the nation, we want to make relation with all countries of the present world.

In the 1972s and later the USSR helped Bangladesh in the revitalizing and developing its economy. In particular, the power plants at ‘Ghorashal’ and ‘Siddirganj’, electrical equipment factory in Chittagong and other projects were built with financial and technical assistance of then USSR.

On December 29,1991, Russia was recognized by Bangladesh government as a successor to the USSR. At present, our bilateral cooperation is developing in many spheres. We are working on a number of joint economic projects, political, cultural and educational cooperation between Russia and Bangladesh is on rise. Moscow and Dhaka share common stance on the majority of international issues.

Russia, the inhabitant of Soviet Union, one of the strongest power of the cold war period in the world, still the big power in the eco-politics of the world. In spite of this we have maintained one kind of distance with that country. Though the Soviet Union has played an important role during our war of liberation. But after the tragic political setback

of ‘75 the relation between two country become cold. After that last century’s end leg of eighties decades a revolutionary changes has been occurred in the global politics. Not only the socialistic system of Soviet Union, but once the whole country been divided and make an end of the cold war from the global politics. Under this circumstances though the situation was created to improve the relation with Soviet Union, none of the governments were seen to take steps accordingly. It is unthinkable, Russia, the country who has contributed more after India during our great war of liberation, that country was out of sight to our political and heads of states for long 40 years.

Russia was taken stand beside Bangladesh during its formation as an independent state, still they have the same motive. It has been proved through different working performance of Russia. During the past days only Russia was not neglected, but not a single steps were taken to improve the diplomatic and commercial relation with the East-European countries.

After the recent days of independence a cordial position was created by Russia among the people of Bangladesh through giving different types of cooperation in our education, science and health sectors (treatment). Many young were spread in different countries taking education in Russia.

Though Russia is our tested friend during our bad days, but the governments, those came to power in previous days after 1975, they did not given proper attention toward this instead of given attention towards the Western World for achieving different types of advantages. The relation with US, China and India increased to a scale, but no such improvement has been occurred with the Russia.

As there was no co-relation between two countries for long time, that become smooth and strong through the last official visit of the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina on January 14-16,2013.

This become the first visit at such a high level in the history of the bilateral relations between Russia and Bangladesh in the last 40 years. President Vladimin Putin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held extensive negotiations on numerous issues of bilateral and international agenda. Three intergovernmental agreements were signed covering credit cooperation and six memoranda of understanding in different spheres; i.e., nuclear energy, military hardware supplies, agriculture, education, health, culture, justice and counter-terrorism.

On invitation of Vladimini Putin, the President of Russia, this visit of Sheikh Hasina was the visit of the head of the government after long forty years. This visit was not only a state visit and that proved after the signing of two important agreements. During this visit of Prime Minister’s, two credit agreements of Tk. 12 thousand crore have been signed among the two sides regarding the purchase of arms and establishing of nuclear power station.

Among this amount Russia has given credit of Tk 8 thousand crore to purchase arms and ammunitions. Along with this amount they will allot more Tk. 4 thousand crore to establish Ruppur nuclear power station. In addition of these different MoU has been signed on the issues of agriculture, health, education, culture and combat of terrorism. It may be termed as a beginning of new area of relation between Dhaka and Moscow.

Bangladesh will receive an amount of US $ 50 crore for maintaining of technical research works to establish the first nuclear power plant at Ruppur of Pabna district. This amount will be spent in two years to incur the cost of technical research to find out the required amount which will be required to establish the nuclear power plant. The government is going to establish the nuclear power plant with five layers security system with the help latest third generation technology imported from Russia. To establish a nuclear power plant at Ruppur, Bangladesh has made an agreement with the nuclear fuel company of Russia ‘Rosatom’. After the signing of agreement and MOU the two heads of the government expressed their expectation that, through this process the relation between Dhaka-Moscow will reach to higher position. Considering the events and facts of Prime Minister’s visits of Russia these points may be taken into consideration.

After the visit of the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, this was the first time any head of state or government visited former Soviet Union or Russia from Bangladesh.

In the present world to improve the bilateral relation the importance of economic relation become prominent. If we take into consideration deeply the bilateral relation between Russia, India and China with Russia, then it will be observed that the relation of Bangladesh with Russia is very limited compare to them. During the era of globalization and self dependence different states maintain relation among them keeping their interest in overcoming the limitation of opinion from one region to other region maintaining good relation among them. As a result of that, the volume of trade, investment and cultural relation is being increasing. Through this steps taken for confirmation of security and development. Bangladesh is trying to speak about the economic diplomacy and toward East policy for a long period.

There is a great prospect for establishing of strong trade relation between Russia and Bangladesh. Russia-Bangladesh economic and trade cooperation are based on the intergovernmental Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation and Trade Agreement of 1972. On March 01,2017 the Agreement between Russia and Bangladesh on the Establishment of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation was signed. The aim of the Commission is to develop broad-based cooperation between two countries in various spheres. It will facilitate the diversification of bilateral trade, economic, scientific and technical ties between the business communities of the two countries and assist to remove barriers to mutual trade.

In the case of economy, relation between two countries focus a special importance. Specially, during the period of the present government a wide range of expansion in trade has been occurred. In 2003-05 period the amount of trade between Bangladesh-Russia was only US $50 million, and that has been increased to US $400 million. In 2016 the bilateral trade volume exceeded US $1.4 billion. More than 90 per cent of the Bangladeshi import to Russia consists of ready-made garments, seafood and leather items. But Russia export metal-roll, raw materials for textile industry, machinery equipment, fertilizers, crops, including high quality milling wheat. It is important to note that our bilateral trade is generally balanced, the export from Russia is almost equal to the import from Bangladesh. Russia is such a country with whom all the countries of that region is cordially linked up through different types of regional and sub-regional cooperation is organizations. It may be noted that, Russia for long times to observing the existing recent geo-economical and geo-political changes of South Asia. In geo-political and economic consideration-calculation Russia taken Bangladesh under important consideration.

Bangladesh faces an energy deficit and is keen to develop energy cooperation with Russia. Hence, energy sector is a focal point of bilateral cooperation between our two countries.

Russia and Bangladesh have been cooperating in the energy sector since the 1970s. The power plants at Ghorashal and Siddhirganj constructed with the Soviet assistance still produce around 20 per cent of total electricity in Bangladesh. Nowadays, such Russian energy giants as State Corporation ‘Rosatom’ and ‘Gazprom EP International’ are actively contributing to the realization of the ‘Universal Electrification-2021’ plan of the government.

The writer is an economic analyst, Email : [email protected]

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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