Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the government has been modernizing the Bangladesh Navy to protect marine resources and safeguard sea trade for economic prosperity.
“A prosperous economy would only be possible when we can ensure a safe and secure environment at sea. To that end, we’ve been modernizing our Navy by increasing its capacity and taking quality development programmes over time to protect our marine resources,” she said.
The premier said this inaugurating the four-day International Fleet Review (IFR) 2022 at Inani in Cox’s Bazar, being held with participation of the navies from different countries of the world.
With the theme of ‘Friendship Beyond the Horizon,’ the Bangladesh Navy hosted the first-ever IFR – a congregation of warships and delegations from friendly navies, including those of China, India, USA, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.
Sheikh Hasina said the strategic and economic importance of the Indian Ocean has greatly increased now as 90 percent of the world's trade is made by seaways. So, safe seas are essential for free international trade, she said.
She said there is a huge scope and potential for maritime trade, economic prosperity and extraction and exploration of marine resources. “Realising the immense potential of marine resources, our government has taken massive initiatives to develop the marine sector of Bangladesh,” she added.
The PM said, as a nation Bangladesh has always attached priority to global and regional peaceful coexistence. The Awami League government is running Bangladesh maintaining good relations with everyone, she added.
“We believe that any problem can be solved through negotiation, not with conflict. The Armed Forces of Bangladesh are being strengthened not to fight a war, our mission is to establish peace as well as to protect the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said war invites dire consequences for humankind as people of Bangladesh witnessed during the 1971 Liberation War. Now, the world is witnessing and feeling the dire consequences induced by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
“We don’t want war, we want peace,” she said, adding that she called upon the international community to stop this war and solve problems in a peaceful way, if any.
The PM said Bangladesh has been able to demonstrate its commitment to peaceful coexistence in the recent past. Bangladesh solved the maritime boundary disputes with neighbours peacefully, maintaining friendly ties with India and Myanmar, she added.
Besides, Bangladesh has managed to settle the land boundary problem with India in an amicable manner and exchanged enclaves between the two countries, she said.
Peace leads to prosperity, she said.
The PM hoped the 'IFR-2022' event organised by the Bangladesh Navy with the motto “Friendship Beyond the Horizon” would strengthen the bond of friendship between countries further. “I strongly believe that it will play an important role in increasing mutual trust and achieving economic prosperity among all the coastal countries,” she said.
She hoped that the representatives of countries participating in IFR 2022 will get a detailed idea about the immense potential of Bangladesh’s sea, infrastructure development in coastal areas and tourism.
Extending thanks to the Bangladesh Navy for organizing the important event, she hoped that such activities would continue in the coming days.
The premier also inaugurated the Bangladesh Navy jetty at Inani in Cox’s Bazar.
She witnessed a spectacular parade by Bangladesh Navy and foreign ships’ crew, free-fall jump by SEALs commando and an operational demonstration before reviewing the fleet.
She unwrapped the cover of a publication titled “Bangabandhu & Navy’s Journey in 50 Years’ in the inaugural ceremony of the IFR.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral M Shaheen Iqbal delivered the welcome speech on the occasion. An audio-visual presentation was screened focusing on the journey of the Bangladesh Navy since the independence of the country.