The issue of defense and security is highly focused in the country’s diplomacy, in recent times, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made her first overseas trip in her third consecutive term in office to attend the Munich Security Conference (MSC-2019) in Germany and the International Defense Exhibition (IDEX-2019) in UAE. She visited Germany and UAE from February 14 to February 20, 2019.
In this week-long visit, Prime Minister also held meetings with world leaders, exchanged views with Bangladeshi community and signed several MoUs to enhance the bilateral cooperation.
On February 14, 2019, the Prime Minister left Dhaka for Germany. She attended the 55th Munich Security Conference 2019 along with more than 600 high-level international decision-makers from politics, business, academia, and civil society.
Sheikh Hasina was the first Bangladeshi head of government to attend the conference in 2017 that discusses current crises and future security challenges.
The Munich Security Conference embraced a comprehensive definition of security, which encompasses not only traditional national or military security, but also takes into account – among others – the economic, environmental and human dimensions of security.
Besides Bangladesh Prime Minister, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and many other heads of government and state are among the politicians who attended the 3-day conference.
The prime minister was invited this year to address two sessions — “climate change as a security threat” and “health security”.
On February 16, 2019, at the panel discussion on “Climate Change as a Security Threat,” at the Conference Hall of the Bayerischer Hof, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “We've enormous amount of science, technology, innovation, finance to address climate change. We only need the 'will' of the richer segments of societies - everywhere - to act ambitiously against climate change. We need to 'transform' our lifestyles, attitudes, systems, economies.”
“Climate change has become a real threat to human being with an unabated rise in global temperature”, she said.
About Bangladesh, Hasina said increasing cyclone, storm, and monsoon flooding challenge livelihood of its people.
“Our Bay of Bengal is increasingly getting acidic. Twenty percent of our people are living along the coast and one-third of Bangladesh's population eventually risks displacement with rising sea level although we have little contribution to global warming.”
She mentioned that the erratic pattern and intensity of rainfall and rising heat made farming difficult for Bangladesh's people. There were also reports of growing water stress during dry season.
The Prime Minister said changing climate was taking its toll.
“Bangladesh has been in the forefront in addressing coping mechanisms, particularly in the agricultural sector. We've invented flood-resistant, salt-tolerant and drought-tolerant rice varieties," she added.
In reply to a query, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh military has been engaging with a lot of development activities in the country. It is leading the disaster response in Bangladesh. They can also be engaged in early warning mechanisms.
Hasina said most of the UN members are discussing the climate change issue in the multilateral forums. “We need to keep the discussions and engagements up", she added.
Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable front-line countries, she said, adding that the government in Bangladesh has included climate actions and disaster risks reduction in its national plan.
Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Hans Joachim chaired the discussion.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also addressed a roundtable on ‘Health in Crises – WHO Cares’ at the 55th Edition of Munich Security Conference. She gave importance on more engagement of the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure universal health services for all.
“As a global leader, the WHO needs to be engaged more effectively with nations to achieve the health-related sustainable development goals (SDGs),” she said.
Sheikh Hasina also underlined the importance of a predictable and urgent financing for the health security initiatives in the developing countries and LDCs.
“We need to work collectively as advanced technology and innovation have provided us with opportunities to work on health security particularly for the vulnerable sections of our society,” she added.
During her stay in Munich, Prime Minister also attended a dinner program hosted by president of the World Economic Forum and CEO of Jigsaw Borge Brende Jared Cohen.
Besides, president and CEO of the Siemens AG Joe Kaeser, CEO of the Veridos Hans Wolfgang Kunz, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Beatrice Fihn, chief prosecutor of the ICC Dr Bensouda met her separately during her stay there.
Following the meeting of Siemens CEO with the prime minister, the power division of Bangladesh and Siemens of Germany signed a document for the construction of a 3600MW LNG power plant at Payra in Bangladesh.
From Munich Sheikh Hasina arrived UAE in the morning on Sunday (February 17, 2019). On that day, she visited the 5-day long International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) organized by United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan received the Prime Minister on her arrival at the exhibition center.
Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also Emir of Dubai, invited her to join the IDEX.
The IDEX is one of the largest international defense exhibition and conference in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region demonstrating the latest technology across land, sea and air sectors of defense.
The exhibition is a biennial event and is being held since 1993 under the patronage of President of the UAE and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces to establish and strengthen relationships with government departments, businesses and armed forces throughout the region.
More than 1,300 defense firms and entities participated this year’s defense exhibition.
The IDEX is the largest specialized defense exhibition in the region celebrated its silver jubilee this year and became the largest one with the presence of representatives from more than 60 countries.
During the visit Sheikh Hasina held meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and bilateral talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and Emir of the Emirate of Dubai and other leaders.
She had an audience with Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi, Wife of Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founder and the Inaugural president of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi at Al Bahar Palace.
The Prime Minister attended a community event held at St Regis Abu Dhabi Hotel where she stayed during the visit.
An UAE business delegation, led by its Economic Minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, met the Prime Minister and expressed interest to expand the UAE investments in Bangladesh making new investments in various sectors like energy, port and industrial zone.
During her stay in Abu Dhabi, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed four memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on establishing port, industrial park, supply and setting up LNG terminal, power plants and a special economic zone in Bangladesh.
The government of Dubai and Public Private Partnership (PPP) authority under the Prime Minister's Office signed the first MoU to set up a port, dry port and industrial park in Bangladesh.
The second MoU was signed between Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) and the power, energy and mineral resources ministry of Bangladesh to supply LNG to Bangladesh on a long-term basis and develop a land-based LNG receiving terminal in Payra.
The third MoU was signed between Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum and the Power Development Board of Bangladesh (PDB).
The fourth MoU was signed between the private office of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home on the morning of February 20, 2019, wrapping up her week-long visit to Germany and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
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