Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has proposed that the developed countries should contribute 10 per cent of their defence budget to the climate fund to help the vulnerable countries.

“We want to save this planet earth. Because this is the only earth we have. In order to save this planet earth, the development partners agreed to provide us additional funding. Unfortunately, not a single penny till today has been given. Therefore, I have a proposal that the countries that spend any money for defence, they should allocate 10 per cent of their defence expenditure for the climate fund,” he said.

The Foreign Minister made the proposal through a video message at a seminar which was organized by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) marking its 25th founding anniversary celebrations at the the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) on Sunday.

He mentioned that Nearly US$ 2.30 trillion is being spent by these countries as defence expenditure, he said adding that by providing 10 per cent of this budget the negative impact of climate change on the vulnerable countries can be mitigated.

The Foreign Minister said LDC graduation is a success story – so, the graduates should be rewarded, not punished.

“We are graduating. Since we are graduating, this is a success story. So, the graduation should be rewarded, not punished. We should have a soul-searching to make the process of graduation smooth. I am thankful to UN Secretary General as he said graduation must not be punished but rewarded,” Momen mentioned.

“Graduation must be a reward, never a punishment,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres at Leaders’ Summit of Least Developed Countries in Doha recently.

“Now it is time for us, and you journalists, how we can create a global financial regime as well as trade regime so that LDCs could graduate and they (those LDCs who are graduating) have a smooth transition,” Momen said.

The foreign minister also said: “We know that unless there is peace and stability in a country, it is very difficult for that country to prosper. Look at the countries that did very well. Take the example of a small country like Singapore. It had the same government for over 56 years. Rwanda has had the same government over the last 26 years.”

“But also look at the countries where there is no regional peace – for example, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. So, whenever there is no regional peace and stability, there is no internal peace and stability. Only those countries do well where there is peace and stability.”

He added that over the last 14 years, Bangladesh has had a very stable government. “No wonder Bangladesh did very well. And if there is any problem, we would like to resolve that problem through dialogue and discussion. And our examples are very bright to have resolved most of our problems with the neighbours through dialogue and discussion peacefully.”

He hoped that journalists will try to promote these issues globally and raise public awareness for the decision makers to come up with constructive ideas and approaches.

The Foreign Minister thanked the DCAB members for questioning them and by promoting the government’s issues.

“Whenever anything goes wrong, they pick it up and in the process we rectify ourselves,” he said, adding that the DCAB members have been helping them a lot.

National Interest First

While speaking as the chief guest at the seminar, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam said journalists must play a responsible role when it comes to covering sensitive issues concerning national interests.

“You will find a whole lot of issues in 365 days of the year. Of them, there will be some very significant and highly sensitive communications. … You will have to decide if those should get published,” he said.

Alam said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs keeps its door open for reaching out on any issue. “A good initiative’s success depends on the timing of its opening up.”

He said there is nothing as such personal interest in diplomacy and Bangladesh will continue to follow its policy – “Friendship to all, malice towards none.”

“It’s a journey that we are undertaking together and we hopefully continue this trend,” Alam said.

The State Minister highlighted the lack of analytical and research-based articles on various foreign affairs including issues on Asia, Europe, Middle East and geopolitics in the media.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, former ambassador M Humayun Kabir, Bhorer Kagoj Editor and Jatiya Press Club General Secretary Shyamal Dutta, Dhaka University International Relations Department Chair Lailufar Yasmin, DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus and General Secretary Emrul Kayesh also spoke at the seminar.

DCAB members Sheikh Shahriar Zaman and Mir Mostafizur Rahaman presented a paper on the role of journalists in diplomacy, while DCAB former presidents Raheed Ejaz and Pantho Rahaman moderated the event.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said diplomats put the national interest as their top priority when handling sensitive issues in diplomacy.

He said the media also need to uphold the national interests while covering those issues.

Former Ambassador M Humayun Kabir said there is no scope for journalists to think that the common people don’t understand much about what is happening around the world.

The internet has given them access to these delicate matters. So, journalists need to study more as their credibility will be at stake, he added.

In his keynote paper, Mir Mostafizur Rahaman said, in critical foreign policy issues like Bangladesh’s bilateral ties with its neighbours and important countries, local media played the role of both the information provider and opinion builder.

Three founding members of the DCAB – Shyamal Dutta, Anis Alamgir and Mostafa Kamal – were honoured at the event. DCAB began its journey on March 16 in 1998.

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