“Over the past 10 years, Turkey has made great strides, especially in military technology, while Bangladesh has gained worldwide attention for its economic growth. So we see that the areas of convergence are developing, everything like relationships. ”
Mr. Humayun Kabir President, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI)
Emerging from past diplomatic conflicts, Bangladesh and Turkey deepen relations as the latter seeks to regain its position in the Muslim world, while Dhaka seeks strong allies on the global stage to resolve the Rohingya crisis and boost trade, analysts said.
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Turkey, a NATO member with strong military power, is an influential voice in the UN, OIC and other world forums and has supported Dhaka’s position on the Rohingya issue, a very wanted for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh also wants increased trade with Turkey, which Ankara wants to increase to $ 2 billion from the current bilateral annual trade worth $ 1 billion.
Recent progress is already strengthening defense cooperation, testifying to the depth of the relationship, foreign policy analysts observed.
“In the past 10 years, Turkey has advanced a lot, especially in military technology, while Bangladesh has gained worldwide attention for its economic growth. So we see that the areas of convergence are developing and the areas of convergence are developing. relations too, ”said Mr. Humayun Kabir, president. of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI).
Turkey, which sided with West Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, recognized Bangladesh in 1974 and opened its embassy in Dhaka two years later.
Relations had developed since then, but they plunged in 2012 when Ankara began to condemn prosecutions by the International War Crimes Tribunal against the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami.
Following the execution of Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami in May 2016, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Bangladesh, straining bilateral relations.
Tense relations began to recover when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrote to Turkish President Erdogan condemning the coup attempt to overthrow him in July 2016. Therefore, Ankara sent a new ambassador to Dhaka later in the year.
Turkish First Lady Emine Erdogan visited Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar in September 2017 following the influx of around 7.5 lakh of refugees from Myanmar. The country has actively supported the Rohingya cause at the UN, OIC and other world forums. It also provides humanitarian assistance to refugees, officials from Bangladesh’s foreign ministry said.
At the end of last year, Bangladesh Navy and Air Chiefs visited Ankara and in September Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen visited Turkey and a inaugurated the Bangladesh Chancellery Complex. Likewise, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Bangladesh and inaugurated the Turkish Embassy building in Dhaka in December last year.
The chief of the Bangladeshi army, General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, also paid an eight-day visit to Turkey from August 18 to 26, 2021, when he met with senior Turkish military officials, including the Minister of Defense and the head of the Turkish Presidency of Defense Industries and discussed issues of possible defense cooperation. , training and exchanges.
He also inspected the Turkish Unmanned Air System (UAS) operations control room, military aviation headquarters and Turkish aerospace industries.
During the visit, the army chief highlighted the strategic friendship and cultural ties between Bangladesh and Turkey, saying his visit “will open new doors for cooperation between the military forces of the two countries.”
A diplomatic source in Ankara said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could visit Bangladesh at the end of the year, as more business delegations exchange visits with high business potential. A parliamentary delegation from Bangladesh is expected to visit Turkey shortly.
Turkish authorities have announced the installation of the sculpture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Ankara and that of Kemal Ataturk, father of modern Turkey, in Dhaka.
In June of this year, Bangladesh signed a defense procurement agreement with Turkey for the import of various defense equipment from Rokestan, a Turkish military equipment company and subcontractor.
“Our Turkish defense industry signed an export agreement [to Bangladesh] various types of defense equipment. Don’t stop, keep going! “Ismail Demir, president of Turkish Defense Industries, said in a tweet on June 29. Officials at the Bangladeshi Embassy in Ankara confirmed the deal.
The products will equip Bangladesh’s armed forces with standard NATO air, land and naval warfare weapons, according to Bangladesh Defense Analyst, an information portal maintained by the country’s defense experts.
Roketsan has already delivered the Tiger missile system to the Bangladesh Air Force with Teber laser-guided precision strike munitions kits to Bangladesh in June, according to reports from Defense Technology of Bangladesh.
Programs are underway to equip the Bangladeshi Navy with Turkey’s latest anti-ship missiles while the military and air force could procure air defense systems, surface-to-surface missiles and advanced munitions, he said. -he indicates.
Turkish news agency Anadolu recently reported that Bangladesh has become Turkey’s fourth-largest arms buyer, receiving up to $ 60 million in arms out of some $ 1 billion in global product exports. defense of Turkey in the first four months of 2021.
Meanwhile, 41 members of the Bangladesh armed forces attended training in Turkey in June this year. “Bangladesh is set to become one of Turkey’s main defense equipment customers over the next five years,” the news agency said.
THE INTEREST OF TURKEY
Dr Yatharth Kachiar, assistant professor at the Manipal Center for European Studies of India, said that Turkey, under the aegis of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), has started to pursue its strategic interests in the countries of the South at the beginning of 2000. In 2019, she undertook “Asia Anew” which focuses on strengthening relations with Asian countries to create synergies in the fields of education, defense, investment, of commerce, technology and culture.
She says Ankara’s surge in activism in Asia is a result of structural changes globally and the ideological impetus behind AKP foreign policy.
“The growing rupture in Turkey’s relations with the West and the ongoing struggle for primacy within the Muslim world has distanced Turkey from its traditional ally, the West and neighboring Islamic countries,” Kachiar said in an email interview.
President Erdogan intends to expand Turkey’s defense industrial base by increasing arms sales to $ 25 billion by 2023, and Bangladesh could become a critical market for the defense industry Turkish in the future, she said.
Alan Mikhail, professor of history at Yale University, says Turkey wants to become a modern version of the Ottoman Empire.
“While every modern Turkish ruler has moved away from the legacy of the Ottoman Empire and Islam, in an attempt to project a more Western, secular and modern face for the republic, Erdogan is the first to actively embrace the Ottoman past and the Empire of the Empire. The Islamic heritage, “he said in an email interview.
DHAKA’S STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES
According to defense and foreign relations analysts, Bangladesh has three specific goals for deepening relations with Turkey: diplomatic strength, trade and diversification of arms sources.
Former Foreign Minister Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said Turkey is militarily and politically a world power with a strong and independent voice. In addition, it is the only predominantly Muslim country in NATO.
He said that Bangladesh, which has faced serious diplomatic challenges for the Rohingya crisis, needs its ally, and Turkey has turned out to be one in various global forums, including the International Court of justice.
Bangladesh traditionally buys major defense equipment from China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and South Korea, analysts say.
“Turkey manufactures quality weapons, which are not very expensive and can come without conditions. This is what Bangladesh needs,” a diplomatic source said in Ankara. “In addition, Bangladesh can get the technology for manufacturing equipment here.”
Security analyst Brigadier General (ret’d) Shahedul Anam Khan said purchasing anti-ship missiles and air defense systems from Turkey means the country has more options for military purchase .
Buying defense products doesn’t mean doing it once. This requires training and then props in the future. “During critical times, you cannot depend on a single source of weapons supply. If you have more options, you have more independence.”
Brigadier General (ret’d) M Shakhawat Hossain said Bangladesh has no security threat as such as of yet. But as the economy grows and the need to secure huge maritime borders is high, the country’s armed forces need to be modernized.
“In addition, we are the largest country sending peacekeepers to UN missions. We also need capacity building and modern defense equipment for this, ”he said.
The other reason why Dhaka’s relationship with Ankara is important is the country’s economy. As the country soon becomes a middle-income country, it needs more trade and foreign investment, said Humayun Kabir.
Turkey, an upper middle-income country in Europe, can be a big market for Bangladesh. Countries can also have joint ventures, including in textiles, as they both have specialties in the sector and other areas, he said.
When asked if Erdogan’s right-wing policies and conflicts with Saudi Arabia would have implications for Bangladesh, Humayun Kabir said it was unlikely.
“If Turkey wants to regain its power like that of the Ottoman Empire, that’s fine. We’ll see where our convergence lies.”
Bangladesh also maintains the policy that friendship with one does not affect the other, he said.
“Bangladesh’s relationship is with the state, not with Erdogan’s government,” Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said.