Published:  12:06 AM, 09 September 2019

Uplifting Malta-Bangladesh ties to new dimensions

Uplifting Malta-Bangladesh ties to new dimensions Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen had a meeting with his Maltese counterpart Mr. Carmelo Abela in Valletta in July this year.

Malta has a history of a civilization which is longer than 7,000 years that began with the first settlement of human beings in Malta from Sicily. This was followed by the construction of megalithic temples during 3600-2500 BC. The land of Malta was governed by rulers from different nations for many centuries.

Later on Malta was handed down to the Knights of St. John in 1530. In 1565, the country was besieged by the Ottomans but was defeated by a small army of the Knights of St. John and the Maltese people. Valletta was founded as the new capital of Malta in 1566 which was named after Grand Master La Valetta of the Knights of St. John.

The French army under Napoleon Bonaparte began ruling Malta from1798. The French ruling authority was expelled by the revolt of Maltese people which marked the start of British rule in 1800. Malta became independent in September 1964 and became a Republic in 1974.  In the course of last five decades Malta has made rapid economic progress and became a member of European Union in 2004.

During last nine years, the Honorary Consulate of Malta in Dhaka has carried out various programs and activities to project the image of the Republic of Malta in Bangladesh by providing information on trade prospects in Malta as well as on tourism, shipping and educational facilities available there which has helped to familiarize the people of Bangladesh with relevant information regarding Malta.

Particularly Malta is famous for maritime education. We have celebrated the National Day of Malta every year since 2012 which has drawn compliments, felicitations and exhilaration from diplomatic community.

Malta's capital Valetta was declared the cultural capital of European Union for 2018. The Maltese government and Maltese citizens deserve to be admired for this glorious achievement through which the heritage and cultural legacy of Malta has become much more widely exhibited to the entire world.

Malta was one of the earliest countries that recognized Bangladesh in 1972. The year 2019 marks the 40th establishment of diplomatic ties between Malta and Bangladesh.

 Malta's capital Valetta is a beautiful city. It was built by the knights of Malta. Valetta is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Grand Harbor of Malta is one of the finest harbors in the world.

The announcement of Valetta as the cultural capital of European Union (EU) for 2018 was a deserving title and recognition for the beauty and cultural significance of Valetta. Malta held the presidency of EU from January 1 till June 30 of 2017 which was followed by the declaration of Valetta as the cultural capital of EU for 2018.

Both Bangladesh and Malta are very much on the move. Bangladesh is doing very well while Malta is the fastest growing economy in European Union. There are certainly very good prospects for commercial ties to prosper between Bangladesh and Malta. First of all we need to make sure exchange of visits by businessmen and officials between Malta and Bangladesh to sign a number of agreements between these two governments.

There are great potentialities for partnership between Bangladesh and Malta particularly from the viewpoint of blue economy. Malta has a very important and strategic location between Europe and Africa. Both Malta and Bangladesh can utilize sea resources for shipping, coastal tourism, yachting, aquaculture etc. These things need to be shared and discussed between the Maltese and Bangladesh governments.

Mr. Angelo Farrugia, Speaker of the Parliament of Republic of Malta, visited Dhaka during November 2017 to visit the 63rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Summit. While speaking at an interview with The Asian Age, Mr. Angelo Farrugia said that Bangladesh and Malta can utilize joint maritime initiatives. Angelo Farrugia spoke very high of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He said, "There are very few leaders who are as great as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

He struggled all his life for the rights and independence of Bangladeshi people. He defended the language, the dignity of his people without compromise. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman taught his people to believe in themselves.

He never gave up. He never backed down. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a sublime political figure in my view. He played massive roles for the independence of Bangladesh. I am very happy that now his daughter Sheikh Hasina is the Prime Minister of Bangladesh."

Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen paid an official visit to Malta in July 2019. During this visit, Dr. AK Abdul Momen had discussions with his Maltese counterpart Mr. Carmelo Abela on issues of mutual interests. They also talked about cooperation between Malta and Bangladesh at international level.

Dr. AK Abdul Momen had meetings with Mr. George Vella, the President of Republic of Malta. He called on Maltese Prime Minister Mr. Joseph Muscat and Maltese Speaker Mr. Angelo Farrugia too.

Dr. AK Abdul Momen and Mr. Carmelo Abela signed a Memorandum of Understanding on regular meetings between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries. Moreover, they signed another document for cooperation between the diplomatic academies of their respective countries.

Malta is now a familiar and well-illustrated name to the people of Bangladesh. Lots of people of Bangladesh now view Malta as an attractive destination for business and higher education.

I believe the current friendly relationship between Bangladesh and Malta will become further elevated following the signing of the memorandums of understanding between Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen and Maltese Foreign Minister Mr. Carmelo Abela. I feel proud to be representing Malta to the people of Bangladesh.

The writer is an entrepreneur, author, Chairman of Editorial Board of The Asian Age and a CIP. Moreover, he is Honorary Consul of Malta in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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