Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | ePaper
ASEM FMs meet today
Rohingya issue top on agenda
Foreign Ministers from Asian and European countries get together here on Monday to strengthen partnership for peace, find joint efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with focus on Rohingya issue.
Though the Rohingya issue is not mentioned specifically in the draft agenda of the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of Foreign Ministers, this biggest humanitarian crisis of the world will come up in a big way to put further pressure on Myanmar for a solution to it.
A diplomat told UNB that regional, international issues, promotion of peace, traditional and non-traditional security challenges will be discussed in the meeting. "So, the Rohingya issue will definitely be there at some point." Ahead of ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Myanmar, Bangladesh tried to make the best use of high-level visits from a number countries, including China and Japan in the last two days-Saturday and Sunday-to mount pressure on Myanmar and expedite talks for sending Rohingyas back to their homeland. After visiting Rohingya camps, the Foreign Ministers on Sunday said they will raise the issue at the ASEM FMs meeting. "Surely, they all said they now have even a better understanding and will raise it," State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam told UNB on Sunday.
Bangladesh is expecting louder voice from the international community at the meeting that begins at Myanmar International Convention Centre (MICC) this morning.
State Counsellor and Union Minister of Foreign Affairs Aung San Suu Kyi and European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini, among others, will address the opening session, said an official.
He said two youth representatives will present their vision on ASEM process.
The ASEM FMs will lay emphasis on making ASEM partnership more dynamic and connected.
Connectivity across the diverse domains, transport, tourism, climate change, energy security, poverty reduction, people to people contact and cultural cooperation, education, trade and investment cooperation will also be discussed, an official told UNB. The official said the Rohingya issue might emerge in a big way at the discussion. The visits of the Foreign Ministers of China, Japan, Germany, Sweden and the European Union High Representative took place on Saturday and Sunday just after a key UN committee has overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on Myanmar's authorities to end military operations against Rohingya Muslims, ensure their voluntary return from Bangladesh and grant them "full citizenship rights".
"These visits just after the third committee resolution will play a supportive role," State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam told UNB. The same visit of the European Union Vice President, he said, will ultimately put pressure on Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis. "I hope, their role will help expedite our bilateral initiative to send back Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh," said the State Minister.