The President of the Republic receives the credentials of the High Commissioner of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

The President of the Republic, Mr Nicos Anastasiades, received today, at a formal ceremony at the Presidential Palace, the credentials of the High Commissioner of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Abudl Motaleb Sarker, stationed in Beirut.

Presenting his credentials, High Commissioner Sarker said:

Your Excellency,

Kindly allow me to convey the warmest greetings and best wishes of the Honorable President of Bangladesh, H.E. Md. Abdul Hamid, and the Honorable Prime Minister, H. E. Sheikh Hasina, and the people of Bangladesh to you personally and through you to the brotherly people of Cyprus. Now, I have the honour to present to your Excellency the Letter of Credence, by which the Honorable President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has appointed me as the next High Commissioner Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the Republic of Cyprus as well as the Letter of Recall of my Predecessor.

Excellency,

Our two countries enjoy excellent bilateral relations, which has grown over the years. I firmly believe that there exist enormous possibilities to further enhance and widen the existing bilateral ties between our two friendly countries in different fields particularly in the areas of trade and investment, education and culture. I earnestly hope that with your kind blessings and support, I shall be able to further promote and strengthen the existing excellent ties.

Bangladesh attaches great importance to its relations with Cyprus. It is very keen to further strengthen bilateral relations with Cyprus for the mutual benefit of the two countries. Bangladesh has made great strides in its endeavor to become a middle-income country by the year 2021. The present Government, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, adopted ‘Vision 2021’ with a view to turning Bangladesh into a knowledge based and ICT driven middle-income country by the year 2021. Until now, we have been able to make significant progress in the fields of poverty alleviation, food security, education, public health, women empowerment, rural infrastructure, communication, ICT, etc, at national level. We are now self-sufficient in food, although the population has grown from 75 million at the time of our independence in 1971 to 160 million in 2016.

Excellency,

Bangladesh has also made notable progress in other areas of economy. Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of ready-made garments after China. Due to our competitive labour forces, all the major stockholders of garments industry are coming to Bangladesh. Bangladesh has now become a ship-building nation and is exporting ships to EU countries including Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Bangladesh has also developed a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical sector. Our pharmaceutical products are being exported to 92 countries of the world including the USA, members of the EU, Australia, Japan and the Gulf Countries. Bangladesh has maintained a sustainable GDP growth rate of around 6.5% over the last decade despite world-wide economic recession. The GDP grew by 7.10% during the last fiscal year. Our annual exports exceeded $34 billion last year, while the remittance by our expatriates stood at US$16 billion contributing significantly to the national economy. Bangladesh has already reached the threshold of the lower middle-income country. We are very much hopeful to reach the level of a middle-income country by 2021 �the year of golden jubilee of our independence.

Excellency,

Bangladesh today is considered to be one of the 11 emerging economies in the world and one of the fastest growing economies in South Asia. Bangladesh is a role model for poverty alleviation, women empowerment, disaster management and in coping with the challenges posed by global climate change. For more than two decades, Bangladesh remains a frontline contributor to the UN peacekeeping missions across the globe helping many countries in the world in reconstructing their broken societies and building peace. At present, Bangladesh is the highest troop contributing country to the UN peacekeeping missions. As part of its commitment for sustainable world peace, Bangladesh is also participating in the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and I am glad to share with you that the present Force Commander of UNFICYP Major General Mohammad Humayun Kabir is from Bangladesh.

Excellency,

I am particularly happy to represent my country at a time when relations between Bangladesh and Cyprus are growing steadily. Bangladesh and Cyprus are both members of the Commonwealth and other major international forums, where we share similarity of views and commonality of interests in a wide variety of regional and international issues. Bangladesh is fully committed to the United Nations Charter and to the principles of sovereign equality, non interference in the internal affairs of others, peaceful coexistence and peaceful resolution of disputes. Based on our commitment to these principles, Bangladesh has always supported all UN Resolutions and initiatives aimed at protecting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus and fully supported the desire of the Cypriot people for reunification. Bangladesh welcomes the recent progress made in the negotiation in Geneva. We are very much hopeful of a positive outcome from the ongoing negotiations and deeply appreciate the efforts undertaken by Your Excellency in this regard.

Excellency,

The diplomatic cooperation between the two countries has reached a level better than ever before. The bilateral ties in various sectors including in the areas of education, culture, trade and investment, etc, are growing steadily. Currently, Cyprus is hosting around 1.500 students in its colleges and universities. The export figure is increasing modestly reaching 5.8 million last year. The export items from Bangladesh to Cyprus include knitwear, woven garments, foot ware, frozen food, shrimps, and agro products, etc. I believe that there is enough potential for further consolidating these ties. As the new High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Cyprus, with Your Excellency’s kind support and cooperation, I will endeavor to further build on these ties in the coming days.

I consider exchange of high level visits as an important element for enhancing bilateral relations. I hope to working closely with the concerned authorities in Cyprus to arrange high level bilateral visits with a view to providing further visibility and impetus to our existing friendly relations. I believe the growing commercial and economic relations should be to the benefit of our two peoples. With this in view, I look forward to the early conclusion of the proposed Memorandum of Understanding on Foreign Office consultations. I am happy to inform that the Agreement on Merchant Shipping between Bangladesh and Cyprus has almost been finalised. We now need to fix the date and venue for signing of the Agreement. We also look forward to the prospective investors from Cyprus to take advantage of the investment friendly atmosphere in Bangladesh and invest in various promising sectors. Our power sector offers ample scope and opportunities for foreign investment including in the areas of in thermal power, coal fired and renewable energy projects. Besides, they could also invest in the agro-processing, leather and leather goods, pharmaceuticals, ICT, textile and clothing, hospital and health care and physical infrastructure development. I hope that the Cypriot investors would be able to exploit these opportunities for mutual benefits.

Excellency,

I wish Your Excellency good health, long life, happiness and continued prosperity of the people of Cyprus.

Receiving the credentials, the President of the Republic said:

Your Excellency,

It is with great pleasure I receive today your Letters of Credence, accrediting you as the new High Commissioner of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the Republic of Cyprus. Let me welcome you to my country and wish you all the best in the performance of your high duties.

Despite the geographical distance separating them, Cyprus and Bangladesh have a lot in common, not least their struggles for freedom and independence. Our two countries enjoy excellent relations, but there is a great capacity for further strengthening our cooperation. As a first step, we can work in negotiating and concluding a number of important bilateral agreements, including in the fields of Merchant Shipping, Avoidance of Double Taxation and Air Services.

Concerning the EU-Bangladesh relations, Cyprus is well aware of the value the European Union attaches to your country, especially as regards the economic and humanitarian dimensions. To this end, the Republic of Cyprus expresses its readiness to work towards facilitating the enhancement of the EU-Bangladesh relationship in an array of areas such as trade and investment, development cooperation and humanitarian aid.

We follow closely and with interest the developments in Bangladesh and we share your Government’s commitment to democracy and the rule of law and, at the same time, we are supportive of the Bangladesh Government’s reform agenda.

Excellency,

Almost four years ago, just after my election as President of the Republic of Cyprus, this country was faced with nothing less than economic collapse. Today, Cyprus can be justifiably projected as a success story of economic reform. With the determination of my Government, the resilience of key productive sectors of the economy and the sacrifice and hard work of the Cypriot people, we have achieved:

? to address fiscal imbalances, through growth-friendly consolidation,

? to have a restructured and fully recapitalized banking sector, mainly through big international investors,

? to undertake and implement radical structural reforms,

? to return to the international markets much earlier than any other programme country, and

? to restore our credibility and regain confidence in the Cypriot economy.

Our ambitious reform agenda, aspires to lay the foundations for long-term sustainable growth, improving the business environment, which will increasingly attract foreign direct investments in the productive sectors of the economy. Towards this direction, there is a continuing process to modernise and reform the current tax and legal framework, while the effort to reform the public service and modernize our legislation continues, with additional measures underway, such as accelerated licensing procedures, updated permanent residency and citizenship programmes, the introduction of e-government and sector-related incentive schemes. Our reform agenda is aiming to eventually transform our economic model, to enhance our competitive edge and to attract foreign direct investments, in order to achieve sustained growth and prosperity for all Cypriots.

Your Excellency,

As regards the ongoing negotiating process to reach a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus problem, for the last 18 months a new effort has begun which has provided, I have to admit, positive results. Progress has been achieved in the Chapters of Governance and Power-Sharing, Economy, EU and to a lesser extent the Chapter of Property.

I need to underline, however, that despite the remarkable progress achieved, differences remain on a number of issues relating to the Chapters I have mentioned.

Nevertheless, and in order to address another fundamental Chapter, that of the territorial adjustments �the outcome of which will significantly contribute towards reaching an agreement on the outstanding issues of the Property Chapter-, on October 26 it was decided to commence a new phase of intensive negotiations at Mont Pelerin, in Switzerland, focusing on this particular Chapter.

During the two rounds of discussions that followed, despite the progress that had been achieved in one of the three main criteria, which should govern territorial adjustments, we did not reach an agreement on the other two criteria. This prevented the submission of maps and consequently the negotiating process came to a deadlock.

On 1 December, and in order to safeguard the momentum of the negotiations and to prevent an overall halt of the process with unpredictable consequences, we agreed to resume and intensify the dialogue in Cyprus from the point it was left-off at Mont PAlerin.

This will lead to a three-day meeting to be held in Geneva between 9-11 of January 2017, with the aim of achieving further convergences on the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem.

On 11 January maps will be submitted on territorial adjustments. Progress on the above issues will allow us to come within reach of an agreement by creating the conditions and prospects for a successful conclusion of the multilateral Conference on Cyprus on 12th of January, which will discuss issues that relate to the international aspects of the Cyprus problem, and in particular on the Chapter of Security and Guarantees and ways and means to ensure the smooth implementation of the settlement.

At this critical juncture, I wish to reassure of my determination to reach a successful outcome at the negotiations in Geneva, so as to achieve a settlement that will reunify our country and fulfill the vision of the people of Cyprus of building an attractive future for our youth and the generations to come, setting an example for peace-making and enhancing security and stability in our region.

A settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council Resolutions, the High Level Agreements and the Joint Declaration of February 2014, with a single international legal personality, a single sovereignty and a single citizenship.

A settlement that will:

? Reunite our country, its people, the economy and institutions;

? Create a win-win situation for all Cypriots, taking into account the sensitivities and concerns of both communities;

? Ensure a modern member-state of the EU and UN, enjoying full sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity;

? Restore and fully respect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its lawful citizens;

? Rid Cyprus of third country military troops or guarantees, an anachronism in today’s World.

To this end, Turkey’s contribution in tangible terms in these negotiations is vital. There is no solution that can be reached without Turkey’s input. We do therefore expect Turkey, which is responsible for the illegal stationing of more than 40.000 occupation troops in Cyprus, to take practical and concrete steps towards this direction, particularly during the upcoming Conference of Cyprus, taking into account not only the benefit of the people of Cyprus, but also the positive impact a settlement will have to regional stability and cooperation.

Mr High Commissioner,

I conclude by assuring you once more of the support of my Government to your valuable mission, so that your tenure will be highly constructive and productive. Let me seize the opportunity to kindly request that you convey a message of friendship and personal health to the President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, H.E. Mr Abdul Hamid, as well as to the friendly people of Bangladesh.

Present at the ceremony were the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Christoforos Fokaides, the Chief of Protocol, Mr Marios Kountourides, and the Head of Presidency at the Presidential Palace, Mr Kypros Kyprianou.

Source: Press and Information Office