Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said the South Asian region, as in 1971, is again becoming a "centre of attention for international diplomacy, with profound implications for Bangladesh" and its place in the world.
"I thank all our friends in the international community who have consistently stood by Bangladesh and held on to their faith in our potentials," he said in a video message marking the Foreign Service Day-2021 that falls on April 18.
This year, the Foreign Service Day is being observed as part of twin celebrations for the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's Independence.
On 18 April 1971, 65 Bengali officials serving at the Deputy High Commission of Pakistan in Kolkata pledged their allegiance to the independent Bangladesh under the leadership of the late M. Hossain Ali, the Deputy High Commissioner at the time.
This was the first time the flag of independent Bangladesh was raised at a Chancery on foreign soil.
Prior to this day, the late Ambassador KM Shehabuddin and Amzadul Haque, two officers then posted to New Delhi, defected from the Pakistan High Commission on 06 April 1971.
These acts of courage and patriotism were followed by a number of Bengali officers serving in diplomatic missions in North America, Europe and other parts of the world, Dr Momen said.
"On this Foreign Service Day, at this critical juncture of our nation, I am joined by my colleagues in the Ministry and our Missions abroad to reaffirm our resolve to face the unforeseen challenges coming our way, and also to seize the unbounded opportunities that beckon Bangladesh, a land of opportunity," he said.
Dr Momen said Bangladesh Foreign Service carries the proud legacy as its innate source of inspiration and guidance and it stands tall on the foundational dictum of 'Friendship to All, Malice towards None', boldly asserted by Bangabandhu.
"This succinct motto proved to be time-tested and almost prophetic during the fifty years of Bangladesh's diplomatic pursuits, even throughout successive regime changes," he said.
The Foreign Minister said Bangabandhu's diplomatic acumen and foresight, demonstrated before and after independence, have been ably inherited by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
With her characteristic conviction and patience, he said, Sheikh Hasina has taken Bangladesh to new height of international diplomacy – be that for peacefully settling disputes, or opening up new avenues for regional connectivity, or taking lead for the climate vulnerable countries or giving shelter to millions of persecuted Rohingya in a rare humanitarian gesture.
Dr Momen said many accolades showered on her by prominent world leaders during Golden Jubilee celebrations speak for themselves.
Bangladesh received 147 congratulatory messages and 30 video messages from the global leaders.
The geo-political significance of Bangladesh's economic rise and development credentials are now unmistakable to foreign policy pundits, he said.
The Foreign Minister said they are now grooming new generation of Foreign Service officers who will bravely reach out to the world with Bangabandhu's vision of a Sonar Bangla engraved in their mind and the 'can-do' spirit instilled in their heart by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"I personally feel humbled to see our officials braving the challenges of the ongoing pandemic to render their services in hotspots in different parts of the world," he said.
Diplomacy, Dr Momen thinks, is an art that draws strength from the whole of society and gets supported by the whole of government.
"On this auspicious occasion, I pay tribute to our nearly 12 million-strong expatriate community across the globe for their contributions to our nation-building and international branding," he said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was hoping to observe the Day in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which they had to defer due to the pandemic-induced strict lockdown currently in place.
Indeed, Dr Momen said, Bangladesh's contributions to international peace, development and humanitarian work have been the outcome of the dedicated hard work of many at the Foreign Service that the nation at 50th anniversary can definitely feel proud of.
"On this Foreign Service Day, we owe a debt of gratitude to all our officials and their family members serving missions for their contributions to upholding the image of our nation abroad over the last five decades," he said.
Dr Momen extended warmest greetings and felicitations to all his colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bangladesh Missions abroad.