By Mikael HemnitiWinther, Sidsel Bleken and Johan Frisell
Feb 4 2017 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)
The 4th of February marks the 45th anniversary of the recognition of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh by the Nordic countries. This is a day for celebration!
The victory by the Bangladeshi freedom fighters and the Indian troops on 16 December 1971 set in motion an intensive policy process in the capitals of the Nordic countries. There was a strong argument to recognize the just-born People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The Nordic countries had supported de-colonization of African and Asian nations in the 1950’s and 1960’s on the basis of people’s right to self-determination. The fact that Bangladesh liberated itself not from a European colonial power but from another developing country initially obscured the legal analysis. The return of President Sheikh Mujib to Dhaka and the clear statement that the Indian Armed Forces were in Bangladesh upon invitation straightened out the last question marks – it was clear that all criteria for legal recognition of the newly independent state were being met.
In January 1972, the Nordic capitals started to consult on the timing and mode of recognition. It was a common preference to take this important step together. Diplomatic telegrams and phone calls were exchanged between Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Reykjavik and Stockholm, as well as with London and Bonn. A week before the end of January, the five countries had made individual, but coordinated decisions to recognize Bangladesh and these decisions were made public. On the timing, they opted to do the actual recognition on the same day as United Kingdom would, the 4 February 1972. This date has become a landmark date in our countries’ relations to Bangladesh.
The three Nordic countries that we represent – Denmark, Norway and Sweden – have embraced Bangladesh on the basis of peoples’ friendship and solidarity. The fundaments of the Bangladeshi nationhood – democracy, secularism, human rights and tolerance – are core values of our own societies. They are still the essentials for an inclusive and prosperousBangladesh.
We have been consistent development cooperation partners since a few weeks after the birth of Bangladesh. When we travel around the country, we are proud to see traces of our small, but often catalytic aid projects in such wide areas as education, micro finance, employment, rural infrastructure, health, agriculture, gender equality and human rights.
Over 45 years, the relations between Bangladesh and the Nordic countries have matured and broadened. The impressive poverty eradication results, including on the Millennium Development Goals, have led to shifting priorities of development cooperation. The commercial relations have grown significantly and are now as important as our development relations. To promote growth in trade and investment, in both directions, is the top priority in the further development of our bonds.
One and a half years ago, the common Nordic commitment to Bangladesh found its expression in the opening of a joint Nordic Embassy in Dhaka. Our cooperation today expands into culture, science, technology, academia and tourism. We are united in the fight against corruption. The Nordic countries are pleased to cooperate with an ever more active Bangladesh in the United Nations and other international fora on important global challenges such as migration, climate change and women’s empowerment.
Looking back at 45 years of steadfast progress in our relations, we are confident that the ties between Bangladesh and the Nordic countries will continue to strengthen!
The writers are Ambassador of Denmark, Ambassador of Norway and Ambassador of Sweden, respectively.
This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh