The Future of Bangladesh - Myanmar Relationship and it's Effect on the Region

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Introduction

1. Bangladesh-Myanmar relations officially began from 13 January 1972, the date on which Myanmar, as the sixth state, accorded recognition to Bangladesh as a sovereign nation. Since then, friendly relations had been prevailing between both the countries with some occasional ups and downs. The historical links between both the countries can be traced back beyond nineteenth century. Despite the ethnic and linguistic differences, both the countries have had traditional commercial and cultural ties since long. Besides, both the countries were under the British-India control for a considerable period of time.

2. Although categorized as part of the Southeast Asia, Myanmar is a geographic junction for the overlapping south, southeast and East Asia regions. Myanmar covers only 256 kilometers of common borderline with Bangladesh on her west. Since independence, Myanmar has experienced military regime for about three decades. The SLORC, which is essentially a military government, has been ruling Myanmar since 1988.

3. Despite some discords on various issues, the present relationship between the two countries can be described as cordial. There are all the possibilities that the diplomatic, cultural and economic relationship between these two countries will improve further. But, the chances of any future political and military conflicts between the two can not be ruled out. Myanmar's recent development of her armed forces and some of her activities compelled Bangladesh to draw a new threat perception. However, in the outbreak of any hostile relations between Bangladesh and Myanmar ; the regional countries may array a different formation because of their certain strategic, political and economic interests.

4. An overview on Myanmar examines the geography and demography and the recent developments in Myanmar. The paper also analyses the existing relationship with a view to finding the sources of possible misunderstanding and future relationship between the two countries. Finally, the paper studies its effect on the region.

Aim

5. The aim of this paper is to analyse the future of Bangladesh - Myanmar relationship and its effect on the region.

An Overview on Myanmar

6.Geography and Demography.Myanmar with its capital at Yangoon is located in the Southeast Asian Region and covers an area of about 680,000 square kilometers and shares a common border with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. Bay of Bengal also bound Myanmar on the southwest and Andaman Sea on the south. Presently, the country is divided into seven states and seven divisions on the basis of the ethnic similarities of the people who live in a region. Total population is nearly 47 million with 135 different ethnic groups. Buddhism is the state religion and Burmese is the official language.

7.Recent Political Development.The present military government is quite successful in repressing the National League for Democracy and systematically ensuring that no civilian leadership could challenge the power of the military in Myanmar. The military government has also managed to pacify the insurgents and drug terrorist groups. The SLORC has achieved in legitimizing its role politically and drafting of a new constitution is still ongoing. At present, SLORC has been transformed into SPDC, which as they say, is moving towards democracy.

8.Recent Economic Development.Myanmar, which plunged itself into isolationism for decades by cutting itself from the rest of the world, is striving its utmost to construct a modernized state based on the market economic system. Myanmar has already become a full member of ASEAN and BIMSTEC. In striving for its economic development, Myanmar invited both foreign and local expertise and investments. Significant achievement has been observed in this regard. Overall investments in Myanmar have exceeded 6.4 billion US$ as of October 1997. The GDP growth is now 5.5% annually.

9.Modernization of Armed...
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