Bangladesh Bangladesh seeks strategic partnership with Turkey

Isa Khan

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Bangladesh has expressed an interest in forging a strategic partnership with Turkey, a middle power.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina revealed this aspiration in her congratulatory message to Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election as president of Turkey.

In the message penned on Monday, the prime minister said: "I am confident that under your leadership, our robust bilateral relations will not only reach new heights but will also evolve into a strategic partnership."

Bangladesh has strategic partnerships with India, China and Japan.

Former foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque said that this is a logical and exciting step for Bangladesh.

“We have already established strategic relationships with three of Asia's major countries. Now we need to deepen and increase our relationships with other powerful countries,” he said.

"This will open new doors for cooperation in various sectors with Turkey. It can be expected that cooperation in trade, defence, and development among other sectors will increase," he added.

Past and present relations

After the Awami League took power in 2008, it initiated trials for war criminals, a move that faced opposition from Turkey.

In 2012, the then-Turkish president Abdullah Gul appealed to Bangladesh to pardon all war criminals, including Jamaat leader Ghulam Azam, in a letter.

Following this, in 2016, when the death sentence for another Jamaat leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, was carried out, President Erdogan publicly criticized the action and Turkey recalled its ambassador from Dhaka.

This rocky relationship took a completely positive turn in July 2016, when a military coup attempt took place in Turkey, and Bangladesh was the first country to voice support for Erdogan, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has always maintained a stance against any military coup.

This marked a fresh momentum in the relations between the two countries.

Currently, Bangladesh purchases various types of defence equipment from Turkey.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, since 2017, Bangladesh has been buying Turkish-made armoured personnel carriers and multiple rocket launchers.

What is a strategic partnership?

Generally, when there is close friendship and cooperation, two countries establish a strategic relationship with each other.

However, a strategic relationship, which is deeper than a typical one, may not always include the topic of forming military alliances.

There are four elements to a strategic relationship.

First, the framework that is needed to foster cooperation through strategic relationships is announced through formal statements from the highest levels of government.

Secondly, to maintain and deepen the relations between the two countries, there must be frequent high-level political visits.

Thirdly, emphasis is placed on strengthening political, security, and defence cooperation in a strategic relationship.

Fourthly, economic cooperation becomes deeper and wider.

Furthermore, the two countries should have the flexibility to adapt to changing situations in strategic relations.

The goal of a strategic relationship is to align the core national interests of the two countries in the long run.

Future cooperation

Enhanced bilateral relations in strategic partnership could potentially lead to increased cooperation in the defence sector.

Former foreign secretary Md Touhid Hossain said Bangladesh needs to maintain close ties with Turkey as it is an emerging country and Turkey is a middle-power country.

He believes that Turkey's defence production system is of Nato standard and that there is scope for cooperation in this regard.

Md Shahidul Haque suggested that Bangladesh could collaborate with Turkey to produce military equipment, or alternatively, Bangladesh could adopt Turkish technology to build such equipment domestically, capitalizing on its large number of young engineers.


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