Bangladesh-Myanmar maritime talks | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 11, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 11, 2010


Bangladesh-Myanmar maritime talks

A good beginning made

IT is a good start that the two countries have made in respect of a very sensitive issue, one that had not been addressed in bilateral forum between the two countries for a long time. The last time perhaps after 1986, that the two countries met to discuss the matter, was when the two were facing a standoff in the Bay of Bengal in 2008.
The recently concluded talks have demonstrated that if one is willing to set aside archaic mindset and think out of the box, without being prejudiced by stated positions, the possibility of resolving so-called intractable issues becomes so much better.
We must appreciate the fact that for the first time Myanmar has moved away from its rigid stance of not considering any other option except the equidistance method in delimiting sea boundary. The meeting has also demonstrated that at the end of the day the matter will have to be resolved through understanding reached across the table. That Bangladesh and Myanmar have decided to delimit the maritime boundary going by the principles of both equidistance and equity is a clear testimony to that.
As it is, much time has been lost in demarcating our maritime boundary. The matter of delimitation in the Bay of Bengal, irrespective of the dateline fixed by the UN to fulfill certain obligations on the part of the parties concerned, must be addressed by the three littoral countries with urgency.
For Bangladesh it is even more so because of the setback caused by the current state of non-demarcation, in the exploration and harnessing of sea resources within our maritime zone. We understand that India has claimed certain blocks on our declared area as theirs. It has also carried out physical survey of the area. These are inside our waters as per declaration of 1974. Myanmar has also carried out survey in 2005 and has given the block to an international oil company in 2003; this is inside our area.
We appreciate the fact that the maritime issue is a complicated matter which needs all the countries concerned to appreciate the position of the parties involved in the matter. Therefore the talks, we hope, will help to establish the basis of taking forward the discussion leading up to a final agreement that would address the needs and establish the rights of the parties concerned in an equitable manner.
So far as the principle of equity is concerned, Bangladesh must finalise the points that need to be factored in our claims, something that has not been done as yet, in spite of the fact that we have been harping on this principle from the very beginning.

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