Dhaka: Establishing rights in the Bay of Bengal through a legal battle with neighbouring Myanmar was an “unbelievable” achievement for Bangladesh, foreign minister Dipu Moni told parliament on Sunday.
“It was an unbelievable recognition for Bangladesh,” said the emotion-chocked foreign minister in the House while speaking on the last week’s judgment by International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) that upheld Bangladesh’s claim over the Bay of Bengal.
The Hamburg-based ITLOS on Wednesday gave its verdict giving Bangladesh the rights of enjoying 200 nautical miles (NM) as Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf beyond the 200 NM waters in the Bay.
Bangladesh on October 8, 2009 filed the legal suits against Myanmar and India as it failed to settle the dispute through bilateral talks since 1974. The legal suit with India has been in the process of disposal by the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in Hague. The court is likely to deliver its verdict sometime in 2014.
Dipu Moni took the floor to explain how Bangladesh settled the dispute with one of its neighbours keeping good relations.
She said Bangladesh believes in good neighbourly relations, but not at the cost of the country’s interest.
“We did not hesitate to take firm and courageous steps for the sake of national interest,” she said adding that all the decisions for peaceful settlement of the dispute were taken in the light of Bangladesh’s constitution and in line with the international laws and conventions.
The minister also gave a power-point presentation in the House. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina thanked the foreign minister for her success in wining the legal battle with the next door neighbour.
Dipu Moni expressed her gratitude to the prime minister for her guidance in dealing with the sea delimitation case.
She said that the area of Bangladesh has increased after the ITLOS verdict. “It will continue to expand as long as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina remain in office,” the foreign minister said criticising the previous Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance for not taking any initiative to settle the dispute.
( Source: The Independent on 19 March 2012)