Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov today (19 March 2021) said Russia remembers Bangabandhu, Father of the Nation, as an outstanding political figure, a devoted fighter for the freedom and happiness of his people and a true friend of Russia.
He said this in a video message which was played today on the third day of the 10-day special programme of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu and the golden jubilee of the independence at the national parade ground here.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the function while her Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa joined it as the guest of honour.
Lavrov said Bangabandhu was the first ever Bangladeshi top-ranking official to pay an official visit to Moscow in March 1972, less than two months after the diplomatic recognition of the State of Bangladesh by the Soviet Union.
“It was then that the foundation for bilateral relations building on the principles of equality, mutual respect and consideration of each other’s interests was laid,” he said.
The Russian foreign minister said symbolically, the commemoration of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s centenary is followed back to back by the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh.
Extending his heartfelt greetings on the jubilee event, he said the people of East Bengal paid a high price for the right to determine its own destiny.
“Our country offered Bangladesh considerable political support and contributed to its war-torn economy restoration efforts,” he said.
Lavrov said on request of the government of Bangladesh, in April 1972, the 12th special-purpose company of the USSR Navy was dispatched to Bangladesh to perform mine and shipwreck clearance of the port of Chittagong.
“Soviet navy sailors lived up to their task,” he recalled.
“It is heartening that our Bangladeshi friends have carried the memory of this feat through half a century, he said, adding that such a caring attitude towards our common history is highly commendable.”
“We welcome the considerable success made by the People’s Republic of Bangladesh over the years of its independence. Your country is steadily pursuing its path towards progress and gradual development and enjoys a strong reputation in the international community,” he said.
He said Dhaka actively engages in addressing current global challenges, including the fight against poverty and climate change. As a major troop contributor to the UN peacekeeping operations, it continues to largely contribute to the conflict settlement process across the globe, he said.
Terming Bangladesh as Russia’s important economic partner in South Asia, he said, “Last year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the turnover between our two states saw a nearly 15 per cent increase, exceeding an all-time record mark of USD 2.4 billion.”
“I would like to highlight the ongoing implementation of the largest joint project on the construction of the first nuclear power plant Rooppur in Bangladesh. We expect that it will be put into operation in 2023-2024, bringing to a completely new technological level the local energy sector,” he said.
Lavrov said Russia is ready to continue the bilateral political dialogue and mutually beneficial practical cooperation.
“I am convinced that the existing ties of friendship will grow stronger for the benefit of our citizens,” he said.
He extended his wishes of peace, well-being and all the best to the people of Bangladesh.