Recalling the contributions of people in present-day Bangladesh to Turkey’s War of Independence roughly a century ago, a senior Turkish official on Friday said Dhaka had taught the world a “humanitarian lesson” by hosting hundreds of thousands of persecuted Rohingya refugees.

“Bangladesh taught the world a humanitarian lesson in the face of one of the most serious humanitarian crises of our time,” said Zehra Zumrut Selcuk, Turkey’s minister of family, labor and social services, referring to over one million Rohingya refugees living in the South Asian nation.

“We sincerely appreciate Bangladesh’s efforts to host about a million Rohingya refugees who fled from the massacre in Myanmar,” Selcuk added.

She was addressing a modest gathering in the capital Ankara to celebrate the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence, hosted by the country’s embassy.

“As a country hosting four million refugees for a decade, we understand you very well,” Selcuk said.

Referring to the common historical, cultural and religious bonds between the two countries, the minister said Turkey and Bangladesh “stood by each other in their most troubled times.”

“The contributions of our Bangladeshi brothers and sisters to our War of Independence were engraved in the hearts and the minds of our people and will always be remembered,” she said.

“It is our sincere desire to enhance and deepen our relations in all possible areas for the mutual benefit of our people,” the minister added.

Terming Bangladesh a “rising star” in South Asia, Selcuk said the country was a key partner in Turkey’s Asia Anew initiative. The initiative by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry aims to strengthen ties with Asian countries.
A special message from Bangladesh Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina was also played during the event.

Ambassador Mosud Mannan, earlier welcoming the guests, thanked Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his congratulations on Bangladesh’s golden jubilee of independence.

“I would like to thank President Erdogan for floating the Asia Anew initiative, under which economic cooperation between Dhaka and Turkey is expected to broaden,” said Mannan.

“Bangladesh is deeply grateful for the material and financial support Turkey has extended for the Rohingya stranded in Bangladesh. The TIKA and Diyanet have provided much-needed relief and infrastructure for the displaced Rohingya in my country,” he added, referring to Turkey’s state-run aid agency and its Directorate of Religious Affairs.

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