Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday asked Bangladeshi envoys in Europe to pursue political and economic diplomacy together in the interest of the country's economic development, reports news agency UNB.
“We need to focus more on economic issues besides political diplomacy so that the ongoing development in Bangladesh can continue,” the prime minister said while speaking as the chief guest at the 'Envoys' Conference', the first of its kind, in London.
A total of 15 Bangladesh ambassadors, high commissioners and permanent representatives, posted in different European countries attended the conference, prime minister’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim said after the meeting.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen also spoke on the occasion while state minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam, prime minister’s principal secretary Nojibur Rahman and foreign secretary Shahidul Haque were present.
The prime minister also held discussions with the Bangladeshi envoys on various issues at the conference and gave them necessary directives.
The issues included enhancing Bangladesh's image further in Europe, boosting trade and commerce and attracting more investment in the country.
Rohingya issue and migration as well as the celebrations of the birth centenary of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of the country's independence were also discussed in the conference.
Referring to the fast-changing world, Sheikh Hasina advised the diplomats to take effective and time-befitting action plan for establishing deeper and broader relations with foreign countries.
"To this effect, we need to explore opportunities for enhancing investment, trade and skilled manpower export in countries, particularly in the European states," she said.
Hasina said Bangladesh now has a very big and skilled youth force who can meet the demand of global job markets.
Referring to the government's various initiatives for building a skilled work force, she said they have already introduced apps for helping people learn nine different languages.
She suggested the envoys to assess the markets of the countries they are stationed at and identify the barriers to bolster economic ties.
The prime minister also said her government is working with specific target of making Bangladesh a developed nation by 2041 and asked the diplomats to draw their own specific targets in line with the goal.
She also advised the envoys to provide better and faster services to expatriate Bangladeshis.
"We've already attained over 8 per cent GDP growth and put a target of 8.12 per cent GDP growth for the current 2019-20 financial year," she said, adding that the per capita income will reach at $2,000 in 2020.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is no more dependent on aid and is sourcing over 90 per cent of over Tk 5.23 trillion national budget for the 2019-20 fiscal from its own resources.
However, the prime minster noted that some groups, including those who failed in the elections, are carrying out propaganda against Bangladesh to halt the country's ongoing development.
In particular, she said the Bangladesh Nationalist Party ((BNP) raised questions against the last general elections after doing "election business" instead of meaningfully participating in it.
Sheikh Hasina said the people in Bangladesh no more believe in propaganda, instead they put their faith on the socio-economic development efforts and achievement of the incumbent Awami League government.
Referring to the foreign policy, enunciated by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the prime minister said the foreign policy of "friendship with all, malice to none" put Bangladesh in a prestigious position at the global stage.
She said following the policy, Bangladesh resolved many contentious issues, including transfer of enclaves with India, through diplomatic dialogues.
"Similarly, we hope the Rohingya issue will also be solved through discussions," she said.
Pointing to the geographical position of Bangladesh, she said the country could be the bridge between the East and the West.
The envoys who attended the conference are -- Abu Zafar (Austria), Mohammed Shahdat Hossain (Belgium), Muhammad Abdul Muhith (Denmark), Kazi Imtiaz Hossain (France), Imtiaz Ahmed (Germany) , Jashim Uddin (Greece), Abdus Sobhan Sikder (Italy), Sheikh Mohammed Belal ( Netherlands), Muhammad Mahfuzur Rahman (Poland) , Ruhul Alam Siddique (Portugal), SM Saiful Hoque (Russian Federation), Hassan Mahmood Khandker (Spain), Nazmul Islam (Sweden), Shameem Ahsan (Switzerland) and Saida Muna Tasneem (United Kingdom).
At the conference, each of the envoys made separate presentation on the activities, challenges and future plan of actions for their respective countries of assignment.
The Prime Minister left Dhaka for London on Friday morning on an official visit to the United Kingdom to attend the envoys' conference and other programmes.
At the advice of Bangladeshi physicians the prime minister will also receive eye treatment in London, her press secretary Ihsanul Karim said, reports BSS.
A VVIP flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, carrying the prime minister and her entourage, took off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 9:35am. The flight landed at Heathrow International Airport in London at 3:40pm (local time) on Friday.
Bangladesh High Commissioner in London Saida Muna Tasneem received the prime minister at the airport.
The prime minister is expected to return home on 5 August.