Dhaka, Oct 18 (UNB) - The 31st General Assembly of ICCROM, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, will be held in Rome, Italy on October 30-31.
A total of 137 countries, including Bangladesh will attend the two-day event that will focus on the most relevant issues and topics of concern on cultural heritage promotion and provide a platform to stimulate dialogue on sustainable approaches for the protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage in the world.
The 31st General Assembly marks 60 years of ICCROM’s activities, according to a message received here from Rome.
ICCROM became officially operational in Rome on March 1,1959.
Over these 60 years, ICCROM has had strong relations with all of its Member States, particularly with the host country, Italy, both as a major contributor to its budget and for the institutional long-standing scientific partnerships, which contribute significantly to ICCROM projects and activities since its inception, said the organisers.
Delegations of ICCROM’s 137 Member States will meet at this two-day event to discuss and enhance the Rome-based agency’s strategic directions and work plan, and elect its new Governing Council.
The event will also be an opportunity to welcome ICCROM’ newest Member State, Costa Rica, and review the activities and projects implemented by its various programmes during the course of 2018-2019.
Several high senior officials from Italy and representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) in addition to representatives of international organisations, diplomats and members of the press are expected to attend the opening of the event on October 30.
A thematic discussion titled “Decolonisation of the Heritage Field and its Implications for Preservation and Management Practices” will be held as part of the 31st General Assembly on 31 October 2019.
It will focus on experiences and perspectives of the four speakers from Jamaica, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa on the relevant topic, and will be followed by a panel discussion and finally an open floor session.
The ICCROM Award Ceremony will also be held during the General Assembly.
This award is granted to individuals who have contributed significantly to ICCROM’s development, or who have special merits in the field of conservation, protection and restoration of cultural heritage.
Dhaka, Oct 17 (UNB) – Newly-appointed Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Naoki Ito on Thursday reaffirmed his country’s support for the early repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar in a safe, voluntary and dignified manner under UN cooperation.
“I express our determination to continue extending necessary support to the government of Bangladesh with a view to realising the early repatriation of the displaced persons to Myanmar,” said Ambassador Ito in a message taking over his responsibility officially.
The Japanese Ambassador expressed his “utmost respect” to the government of Bangladesh for generously accepting and protecting the displaced persons in Cox’s Bazar.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered Cox’s Bazar since August 25, 2017 amid military crackdown on them.
Bangladesh has so far handed over names of over 1 lakh Rohingyas to the Myanmar authorities for verification and subsequently expediting their repatriation efforts but Myanmar is yet to take back its nationals from Bangladesh.
The Japanese Ambassador said he, on behalf of the government of Japan, is dedicated to serving as a bridge between Bangladesh and Japan for further enhancing bilateral relations.
The envoy mentioned about the important years ahead -- the 100th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 2020 along with the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence in 2021 and the 50th anniversary of Japan-Bangladesh diplomatic relations in 2022.
Ambassador Ito said he will continue to work for strengthening cultural and people-to-people relations with Bangladesh in the “rapidly-changing” society here. “My sincere hope is our works will lead to deeper mutual understanding and closer relationship between our two nations.”
The envoy expressed his sincere “sympathy and respect” to Japanese nationals who fell victim in terror attacks in 2015 and 2016.
“I’ll devote myself to ensuring a safe and secure environment for Japanese citizens in close cooperation with the government of Bangladesh,” he said adding that he feels “honoured and humbled” to take the task of representing Japan in Bangladesh.
Ito said Bangladesh is now on a historical stage of opportunity for development and its GDP growth rate in the past 10 years marked as one of the highest in the world.
“With a young and diligent population, Bangladesh has prominent potential of growth. This year, the amount of Official Development Assistance to Bangladesh from Japan counts around two hundred seventy-five billion yen, which is equivalent to 2.5 billion US dollars,” said the Ambassador.
Bangladesh is now the second largest recipient of Japan’s ODA in the world in FY 2017, and Japan, the Ambassador said, will continue to be the biggest bilateral development partner for Bangladesh.
With the expectation of increase in trade and investment, the Sonar Bangla attracts around 300 Japanese companies operating in Bangladesh, said the Japanese envoy.
“I hope that we, Embassy of Japan, will be of help at any time they are in need with the aim of improving Bangladeshi business environment,” he said.
Dhaka, Oct 17 (UNB) – Bangladesh and the United States are in discussion to conclude two “foundational defence agreements” to take the “robust and important” military cooperation between the two countries to the next level, say US government officials.
The two proposed agreements are General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) but the US side declined to comment on the current status of the discussion.
Bangladesh has expressed interest to purchase advanced and sophisticated military hardware from the USA to “modernise” its operations that apparently leads to the discussion on concluding these “certain foundational” defence agreements.
The US thinks these two agreements are “essential” to enabling a closer defence relationship expanding opportunities for defence trade, information sharing and military-to-military cooperation between the two countries.
Asked whether Bangladesh has already agreed to conclude these two proposed agreements, a US official wishing to remain unnamed said, “We’re hopeful that we can conclude. We’re still in discussion.”
Over the past four decades, Bangladesh and China have maintained close military ties reaching defence relations between the two countries 'unprecedented heights' said a diplomatic source.
China is not only a reliable and affordable source of weapons and equipment for Bangladesh armed forces, but also provides military training and technology, according to Chinese Embassy in Dhaka.
Asked about the perception about the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) and US are doing everything to contain China, the US official said IPS is not about containing or countering China but they are trying to respond to requests from their partners. “We’re trying to do everything we can do in helping our partners.”
Officials said the US over the last year provided $3.3 million to send 233 members of the Bangladesh military to attend various military professionalisation courses within the US and the wider Indo-Pacific region.
Another US official said they really value the relationship that they have with Bangladesh military and it appears that Bangladesh is “interested” in modernising their military.
“We desire to support the Bangladesh military forces goal 2030, as Bangladesh seeks to modernise its military equipment,” said the US government official adding that they greatly value the contribution of Bangladesh military officers who attend US military courses.
Over the last year, the US provided $5.3 million to cover the total cost of procurement and delivery of Five 38’ Metal Shark Boats to support the maritime security objectives of the Bangladesh Navy.
The US official said the GSOMIA is a “foundational” government to government bilateral agreement that enables greater collaboration and sharing of classified military information in the form of intelligence.
It is a reciprocal legally-binding agreement that ensures governments understand and commit to protect classified military information at an “equivalent level” of security.
Responding to a question, the US official said the GSOMIA does not obligate governments to share classified information or materials but it only ensures equivalent protection of the information shared by partner governments.
The US government has GSOMIA with 76 partner countries across the world, including some in South Asia.
According to the US government officials, ACSA is all about “simplifying military logistical support” between countries.
He said the purpose of the ACSA is to allow the US and partner nation forces to procure and pay for supply and services that covers food, water, fueling, transportation, patrolling and training. The US has ACSA over 100 countries that include India and Sri Lanka.
Though the US is keen to have these deals done, one of the US government officials, termed some proposed deals “really very boring”.
The US government official said ACSA also improves US’ ability to respond to any potential humanitarian or natural disaster involving Bangladesh and facilitate the transfer of fuel from the US military to Bangladesh Navy ships operating the outside of normal areas.
For example, if a US Navy ship requires 55 thousand gallons of fuel in the Bay of Bengal, it can ask Bangladesh to provide it on payment or in exchange of similar logistic support, the US official explained.
Suppose a Bangladeshi Navy ship near Lebanon requires refuelling and if there is a US facility nearby, Bangladesh can ask the US to refuel their ship in return, they added.
Responding to another question, the US official said there are many things that get negotiated between partner countries - good price and values.
Dhaka, Oct 17 (UNB) – Bangladesh has lauded the commendable role played by the UN over the last seven and half decades in changing the map of the planet through the wave of decolonisation.
“Having ruled by the colonial masters for almost two centuries, Bangladesh deeply feels the pain of peoples under foreign occupation and colonial subjugation,” said Abdul Majid Khan MP at the general debate on decolonization under the 4th committee of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters recently.
He is now visiting New York for participating in the activities of several committees under ongoing 74th UNGA, said the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations on Thursday.
He mentioned the constitutional obligation of Bangladesh to extend nation’s unequivocal support for ‘oppressed peoples throughout the world waging a just struggle against imperialism, colonialism or racialism.’
“This was echoed in the maiden speech by our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh MujiburRahman at the UN General Assembly in 1974, and we therefore, have always been supportive of the aspiration of peoples under colonial domination to exercise their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Charter and relevant UN resolutions”.
Majid Khan commented that still there are 17 non-self-governing territories around the world that are striving for relief from colonial subjugation.
He said to finish this ‘unfinished business’ the UN Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24) must continue to work towards meaningfully addressing the challenges faced by peoples of non-self-governing territories and territories under foreign occupation in their legitimate political, economic, social and educational advancement.
Majid Khan expressed high hopes that the UN in line with the principal objectives of 2030 Agenda will leave no stone unturned to discharge its mandate for achieving the goal of leaving no territory under colonial rule.
He urged the administering powers to extend their full support and cooperation and reminded them about their responsibilities under UN charter, and relevant UN resolutions for promoting advancement of people in the non-self-governing territories.
Dhaka, Oct 16 (UNB) - Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday began his visit to a number of European countries as Bangladesh is giving much importance to boosting its export to the European market with diversification of products as part of its economic diplomacy.
The minister, who left here for Berlin on Wednesday morning, will also visit France, Italy and Greece.
"We want to boost export and diversity it," he said adding that he will also raise the Rohingya issue everywhere in his meetings in the European countries.
Dr Momen will visit Germany until October 19 where he will also have a meeting with his German counterpart, a senior official said.
President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Dr Rubana Huq is also visiting Berlin.
"Germany happens to be the single biggest importer. So it’s important," she told UNB before her departure on Wednesday morning.
Bangladesh also seeks German and French companies to invest in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and High-tech Parks, being developed by the government.
Bangladesh is encouraging the investors to take advantage of Bangladesh’s strategic location, demographic dividend, special incentive package for foreign direct investment (FDI) and a huge domestic market, according to the officials.
From Berlin, the Foreign Minister will visit Paris, France from October 20-22, and attend an Economic Forum there apart from his other engagements.
The Economic Forum will be organised by the French Senate where representatives of the BEZA and BIDA are also expected to attend.
The Foreign Minister will visit Rome, Italy on October 27 and Athens, Greece on October 28-29, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told UNB.
Meanwhile, Dr Momen will join the 18th NAM ministerial meeting on October 23-24 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The NAM Summit, to be attended by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will be held on October 25-26.
The Foreign Minister will return home on October 30.