Report by Humayun Kabir from Lisbon, Portugal. A delegation of the Portuguese Parliamentary Friendship Group for Bangladesh paid an official visit to the Embassy of Bangladesh in Lisbon on Thursday, 09 February 2023 to hold the first meeting of the newly formed Group. The six-member delegation was led by the President of the Group Dr.Adão Silva who is Vice-President of the Assembly of the Republic (Deputy Speaker of the Portuguese Parliament). The other members of the delegation were assembly Members Mr. Pedro Anastácio MP, Mrs. Palmira Maciel MP, Mrs. Isabel Meirelles MP, Mr. Pedro Pessanha MP as well as the Secretary to the Group Mrs.Suzana Santos. The Ambassador Tarik Ahsan, along with First Secretaries of the Embassy Abdullah Al-Razi and Md. Alamgeer Hossain received the delegation warmly at the Chancery.
After an exchange of pleasantries, the members of the Portuguese Parliamentary Friendship Group visited the Bangabandhu Corner of the Embassy. The delegation members showed keen interest as Ambassador Tarik Ahsan enlightened them on the life and contribution of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the establishment of the rights of the people of Bangalees and the independence of Bangladesh. Later, Ambassador Tarik Ahsan briefed the delegation on the history, geography, ethnology, democratic values & struggles, Bangalee nationalism, War of Liberation, socio-economic progress, contribution to regional peace, and global leadership areas of Bangladesh. This was followed by the screening of a video documentary on the development of Bangladesh. Soon after the briefing on Bangladesh, the Ambassador made a PowerPoint presentation on the status of the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Portugal as well as the activities of the Mission. The members of the Mission replied to many questions of the delegation about Bangladesh and the Mission.
President of the Friendship Group Dr.Adão Silva, in his remarks, said that he is optimistic that this first-ever Friendship Group for Bangladesh would contribute to the elevation of the bilateral relations between the peoples of Bangladesh and Portugal to a new height, particularly through the promotion of exchange of knowledge and experiences, the exchange of information and mutual consultations, and the publicizing and promotion of common interests in the political, economic, social and cultural fields. Dr. Silva expressed the intention of the Group to work with the Embassy to find the condition of the Bangladeshi migrants in Portugal with a view to advising their government on improving their situation, if necessary. The Group also showed keen interest to attend cultural events of Bangalees hosted by the Embassy, such as the commemorative program on International Mother Language Day. He also mentioned the possibility of visiting Bangladesh to get to know more about the country.
Ambassador Tarik Ahsan informed the Group that, in reciprocity to the formation of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Bangladesh in Portugal, the Bangladesh National Parliament also formed a 10-member Parliamentary Friendship Group for Portugal. Ambassador Tarik Ahsan listed the issues that the Embassy was currently pursuing and sought the Group’s help in advancing them. He particularly highlighted the desirability of exchange of high-level visits, import of non-traditional manufactures goods from Bangladesh to Portugal, the mechanism for submission of long-term Portuguese visa applications in Dhaka, elaboration of human resource agreement for transparent & orderly recruitment, the work plan for events to mark 50 years’ anniversary of diplomatic relation and so on. The Ambassador sought stronger support from Portugal and the EU for the repatriation of the Rohingya population back to Myanmar and recognition of the genocide committed in Bangladesh in 1971.
After the meeting, the Portuguese Parliamentary delegation attended a dinner at the Chancery hosted by Ambassador Tarik Ahsan. The Portuguese parliamentarians expressed deep gratitude for the warm reception and hospitality extended to them. Ambassador Tarik Ahsan also thanked them for visiting the Mission and for the useful discussion. The visit ended with the exchange of souvenirs.
It may be mentioned that, in December 2022, the current 15th Parliament of Portugal created the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Bangladesh, along with 58 other Groups. This is the first time in history that the Portuguese Parliament created a Friendship Group for Bangladesh. The formation of this Friendship Group is the fruition of an idea that was floated during a meeting between Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. ShahariarAlam, MP and Deputy Speaker Dr.Adão Silva held in Lisbon in May 2022.