‘Threats, opportunities in changing global landscape’
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

Dhaka felt that strategic issues confronting the world have both threats and opportunities for Bangladesh, and it is important to deal with the threats and make the best use of the advantages.

‘The strategic landscape, which confronts us, has to be read as both a landscape of threat and a landscape of opportunity. I think the focus has to be on both,’ said education and commerce adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman on Monday while speaking as the chief guest at a seminar.

The seminar styled ‘The Changing Strategic Landscape: New Challenges and Realities’ was jointly organised by Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) and German Embassy at a city hotel. He said it was important that the country should deal with threats and utilise the opportunities to the best of its advantage.

Zillur said that for a small country like Bangladesh the importance of engagement in strategic issues is even greater because the cost of doing nothing about facing the threats and utilising the opportunities is even greater.

‘So, for us, there is really no choice but to engage in a much more proactive manner on these issues,’ said Zillur. He pointed out that the link between the world and the country’s internal processes was very critical, as these processes determine Bangladesh’s capacity to engage with the rest of the globe.

He said Bangladesh has engaged in a very ambitious attempt in responding to expeditions of the people and electorates. ‘Now, we are engaged in a process of, one might almost say, political modernisation, which is an ongoing process,’ the adviser said. Zillur identified some aspects like quality professional excellence, cultural and social values and ideas, moral values, non-traditional interactions apart from traditional soft and hard power to deal with the emerging strategic issues.

He said future belongs to the capable contenders and Bangladesh is determined to try to fulfil its promise to become a capable contender in the emerging strategic landscape of the world. Presided over by BIPSS president Major General ANM Muniruzzaman, the seminar was also addressed by German Ambassador Frank Meyke. In his welcome address, Muniruzzaman said Bangladesh, as part of the international community and system fortunately or unfortunately, happens to occupy some high value real estate.

‘Access to the Indian Ocean that we potentially can provide adds value to our geo-strategic position or perhaps to its complexities,’ he said, adding, ‘Though a small state, we may be at the epicenter of a large matrix. It is, therefore, critically important to understand and comprehend the changes that are taking place around our strategic landscape.’

Describing Dhaka-Berlin ties as excellent, comprehensive and intensive, the German ambassador in Dhaka, Frank Meyke said, ‘There is, however, one very important area of our bilateral cooperation in which the German Embassy would like to see strengthening and promotion of activities, that is the dialogue between think tanks and strategic thinkers, political scientists, analysts and opinion leaders of Germany and Bangladesh.’

German professor Wifred von Bredow, BBC senior editorial coordinator Sayed Mahmud Ali and former secretary and ambassador Muhammad Zamir presented separate keynote papers at the seminar.

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