Bangladesh-Turkey relations: What’s behind the new intimacy?

Recently a new dimension has been added in Bangladesh-Turkey relations. Forgotten the bitterness of the past, behind such relations between the two countries are diplomatic, military and trade issues.

Analysts claim that Turkey is making various efforts to regain its position in the Muslim world. On the other hand, it is very important for Bangladesh to have diplomatic friends on the Rohingya issue.

It should be noted here that Turkey has been supporting Bangladesh since the beginning of the Rohingya issue. On the other hand, the Bangladesh Prime Minister opposed the coup against Erdogan.

Bangladesh has already attracted the attention of the whole world in terms of economic development. As a result, it is desirable for Bangladesh to maintain good relations with a NATO member state like Turkey.

Bangladesh-Turkey relations

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to visit Bangladesh later this year. However, over the years, representatives of the two countries have improved diplomatic ties.
Last year, the Chief of the Turkish Air Force and Navy visited Bangladesh. Later that year, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh visited Turkey.

A Bangladeshi visiting team is scheduled to visit Turkey soon. The Turkish envoy said a sculpture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Ankara and Kamal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, would be erected in Dhaka as a result of Bangladesh-Turkey new relations.

Historical context of Bangladesh-Turkey relations

Before the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was one of the most powerful empires. The Ottoman Empire was led by Turkey. At that time, the leader of Turkey was known to almost all the Muslim world as the Caliph.

As a result, historically Bangladesh was loyal to the caliph. And the Muslims of Bangladesh were one of the supporters of the caliphate movement in British India.

However, in 1971, Bangladesh separated from Pakistan and formed a new state. At that time, Turkey sided with Pakistan and did not establish diplomatic relations with Bangladesh.

However, Turkey recognized Bangladesh for the first time in 1974 and established its embassy in Bangladesh almost two years later. Since then, Turkey’s relations with Bangladesh have gradually improved.

But the trial of war criminals began in 2012 during the rule of the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh, which Turkey opposes, and relations between the two countries continue to deteriorate.

The deterioration of Turkey-Bangladesh relations culminated in 2016 when Bangladesh hanged a Jamaat leader named Matiur Rahman Nizami.

Due to this incident, Turkey withdrew its diplomatic representative from Bangladesh. However, in the same year, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina criticized the coup against the Turkish President.

Following this, Bangladesh-Turkey relations started improving again and the Turkish embassy in Bangladesh was re-established.

Also read: Turkey realigning ties with Egypt and Gulf rivals

Turkey’s position on rohingya issue


In 2017, about 1 million displaced Rohingyas took refuge in Bangladesh from Myanmar. Since then, Rohingyas have been living in Bangladesh.

It has not yet been possible for Bangladesh to resolve the Rohingya crisis. Turkey has always supported Bangladesh in this regard.

The First Lady of Turkey visited the Rohingya camps when a large number of displaced Rohingyas started settling in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Turkey has also spoken to the international community about the Rohingya problem at various times.

Needless to say, Turkey is one of the member states of the United Nations and a member of the OIC.

In fact, in the face of a massive crisis like the Rohingya, Turkey has become a friend to Bangladesh, which is an important factor in rebuilding relations between the two countries.

Bangladesh-Turkey relations in military context

According to a Turkish media, Bangladesh is the fourth largest buyer of military weapons from Turkey, as Bangladesh imported a lot of weapons from Turkey in the last few years.

Although historically Bangladesh has bought military equipment from Russia, China, the United States, the United Kingdom and North Korea, a Bangladesh portal called The Bangladesh Defense said that the military equipment imported from Turkey would help Bangladesh to become NATO-]ike.

In addition to military weapons, a military contingent of about 40 people has been deployed to Turkey this year for training.

Bangladesh has stated that its diplomatic policy is friendship with all. In that sense, Bangladesh has no military threat.

However, since Bangladesh is a growing economic country and its maritime boundaries are somewhat wide, well-equipped military forces may be needed to protect the maritime boundaries.

Another reason is that Bangladesh sends the most peacekeepers to the United Nations. As a result, Bangladesh needs an armed arsenal for internal training.

Turkey’s purpose behind the relation

All previous presidents of country were so-called Westerners who promoted themselves as secularists and Westerners.

However, from Erdogan’s time onwards, he began to revisit the historical aspects of Turkey’s Ottoman Empire.

Following this, in 2019, Turkey began to adopt a new policy towards the South Asian states. Turkey began to improve its relations with the Muslim-majority countries of the South Asian.

Analysts claim that the expansion of Turkey’s modern Ottoman Empire has had some effect on the development of Bangladesh-Turkey relations. On the other hand, Bangladesh is now a growing economic power, which brings new market potential for Turkey.

Also read: Significances of Bangladesh: work makes the country important?

Bangladesh’s aims with the new relation

Although a small country in South Asia, Bangladesh has become important to the whole world due to its location and economic development.

Analysts believe that Bangladesh has three goals in developing relations with the Turkey. The first is to increase diplomatic power. The second is to increase military power and the third is to prepare the commercial sector.

We have already discussed earlier that Turkey is supporting Bangladesh on such an important issue as the Rohingya issue. As a result, it is important for Bangladesh to build relations with a NATO and OIC member state.

Secondly, since Turkey is a member of NATO, Turkey is very rich in the military field. As a result, it is possible to strengthen the military field of Bangladesh by importing arms from Turkey.

Thirdly and most importantly, trade is improving. Turkey can be a big market for Bangladesh as a growing economic power. The two countries are working together, especially in textiles and similar fields.

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