Amidst huge crowd, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Monday inaugurated the new embassy of the South American country in Dhaka’s Banani area.
“This should be a stepping stone to build better relations between the two countries,” said the Argentine Foreign Minister, acknowledging the enormous love and respect shown by the people of Bangladesh for his country and footballers.
He said the people of Bangladesh never forgot Argentina but continue to raise Argentine flags showing love for Argentina and their people.
“That’s why we humbly came here,” said the Argentine Foreign Minister, noting that this reopening of the Embassy will create a new channel to continue the relations towards a better future.
“It’s a momentous and joyous moment. The reopening of the Argentine mission in Bangladesh is not just a diplomatic gesture, but it is an emotional one as well,” said Shahriar Alam, adding that it is a reflection of the strong bond of friendship that exists between the two nations and peoples.
Non-resident Ambassador of Argentina to Bangladesh Hugo Gobbi and diplomats stationed in Dhaka also joined the function.
Argentina reopened its embassy here after 45 years.
The Argentine embassy in Dhaka was closed in 1978 by the military junta that ruled the Latin American country at the time.
Diplomatic operations, such as visas in order to travel, have since been handled by the embassy in neighbouring India.
Argentina says it is convenient to reopen the embassy in accordance with foreign policy guidelines based on “political, strategic and commercial” reasons.
Shahriar Alam said it is a moment of great significance for both the nations and congratulated the Argentine government on the reopening of their mission in Bangladesh.
“I look forward to working closely with the Argentine Embassy to further strengthen our ties. The reopening of the Argentine mission will deepen the relationship between our two peoples,” he said.
Shahriar said the Argentine Foreign Minister’s kind presence here signifies the importance that Argentina places on their relations.
“Bangladesh is keen to expand its relations with Argentina, the leading economy in South America, in all possible areas of collaboration in depth and dimension,” he said.
The State Minister said Bangladesh and Argentina share a special bond that goes beyond politics and diplomacy.
Millions of Bangladeshis support the Argentine national football team during the World Cup, and this has brought the people closer together.
“People of these two friendly nations are bonded by hearts despite the geographical distance. The reopening of the Argentine mission in Bangladesh provides a platform for us to deepen this relationship further,” he said.
The establishment of a resident mission will provide a platform for the two governments to engage in regular dialogue, exchange ideas, and explore new areas of cooperation.
The embassy will facilitate cultural exchange, exchange of visits of dignitaries, officials and businessmen, academic cooperation, and tourism, and it will promote trade and investment opportunities, said the State Minister.
Bangladesh is now the 35th largest and among the top five fastest-growing economies in the world.
In the recent past, the UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) projected that by 2030, Bangladesh will become the 28th and by 2036, 24th largest economy globally.
“While we idolised ‘the greatest ever’ Diego Maradona, our new generation has another hero -Lionel Messi. What never changed is our love for the great football of Argentina. I wish the bond we have through football will be felt in other sectors as well,” said the State Minister.
The Argentine minister arrived in Dhaka on Monday morning to inaugurate the new Embassy and deepen trade and cultural ties.
Foreign Minister Momen had a bilateral meeting with his Argentine counterpart at a state guesthouse on Monday evening.
Momen also hosted a dinner in honour of the Argentine foreign minister after the bilateral talks.
Cafiero is likely to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi.
“There is also the possibility of signing visa exemption agreements on diplomatic and official passports, MoUs on cooperation in agriculture and diplomatic training academies of the two countries,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Seheli Sabrin told reporters recently.
The two countries are working on a memorandum of understanding on football related matters as well, she said.
Apart from the import of soybean oil and wheat from Argentina, the two sides are likely to discuss Bangladesh’s inclusion in South America’s powerful economic alliance Mercosur.
Mercosur, or the Southern Common Market, is an economic and political bloc originally comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
The Argentine visiting team is likely to enjoy a friendly match between two teams comprising Bangladesh’s junior footballers as well as meeting with football officials.