Love thy neighbour

Exploring the current trends and future prospects of the Bangladesh-Myanmar relationship.

The Ukraine crisis has created a new reality, both from an economic and security perspective, for the world.

Though Ukraine started fighting against Russia by relying on the rhetoric of the US and the West, it is now alone in this fight. 

On the other hand, Russia invaded Ukraine in lieu of security concerns, and is now on the verge of being isolated from the rest of the world.

The geopolitical interests and strategic concerns made the global powers inactive in this crisis which has created a new lesson for the world.

This crisis has taught us that, no matter how complex the crisis with your neighbour, you should resolve it through mutual discussions.

And, this is why Russia and Ukraine are continuing peace talk even amid the war.

Bangladesh and Myanmar, the two close Asian neighbours, shares a border of only 271km. Like every neighbour in the world.

They have some disputes, such as the Rohingya crisis, which can be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

On top of that, they can unlock the huge untapped potential that exists in their relations by enhancing connectivity and cooperation.

Ukraine’s aspiration to become a member of NATO was the main reason that instigated Russia for this military invasion.

Recently, Ukraine’s president has declared that Ukraine will not join NATO and it is unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future.

Though the US and the West encouraged Ukraine, they critically rejected Ukraine’s demand for a no-fly zone over its airspace. 

On the other hand, protests erupted in Russia against Vladimir Putin denouncing his decision to invade Ukraine.

Externally, Russia is also facing pressure after the sanctions slapped by the US and the West.

Such foreign sanction has confiscated hundreds of billions worth of Russia’s foreign reserves. 

Considering the economic loss and energy dependency, the EU has been divided into two groups on whether to split relations with Russia.

The UN resolution to end the Ukraine war has not been unanimously adopted and has no direct or indirect effect on the war. 

So, how will the Ukraine war end?

Ongoing guerrilla fight between Ukraine and Russia for indefinite period, full occupation of Ukraine by Russia, or starting World War III? Only time can say that. 

So, what is the future of Bangladesh and Myanmar as neighbours? They have historical and cultural ties that date back hundreds of years.

Myanmar’s Rakhine State, former Arakan, has century-long friendly relations with Bangladesh. Now, the Rohingya crisis is the only unresolved issue between them. 

Brutality against ethnic minorities, such as the one in Rakhine, is one of the oldest tactics used by Tatmadaw to seize power and gain support of the extremist Burmese.

Moreover, the Rohingya, who have been living in Rakhine for almost a thousand years, have falsely been propagated as Bangladeshi infiltrators. 

After the audacious military coup on February 1, 2021, the attitude of the Myanmar public towards the Rohingya started to change.

In various interviews, General Twan Mrat Naing, leader of the Arakan Army, an armed group of Rakhine State, also called for the restoration of civil rights to the Rohingya.

Now, it is possible to resolve the protracted Rohingya crisis through repatriation with the green signal from the Myanmar army. That is why there is no alternative to continuing bilateral talks.

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