Switching taste for the ‘Ottoman Onions’
Published : Friday, 25 September, 2020 at 12:00 AM Count : 367
Dhaka - Ankara ties seems to have taken off quick, fast heading towards the next stage. While our foreign minister on record has particularly focused on economy and trade during his recent visit to Ankara, our Turkish counterparts have visibly gone a step further.
Two separate incidents of sheer bilateral goodwill gesture, from our Turkish counterparts have caught my attention. First, it was the Turkish government's pro-active approach to repair our damaged Navy vessel BNS Bijoy, damaged during the horrific Port of Beirut explosion on last August. And second, the country's offer to export 15,000 tons of onions, after all the tears we have shed because of the Indian ones.
However, even a more significant event took place in between repairing the damaged battleship and keenness to export onions - the new Bangladesh Embassy complex at Ankara was inaugurated with our PM's virtual presence - where she expressed her eagerness to deepen our bilateral ties.
Altogether a number of landmark achievements have cemented BD -Turkey ties in the post-opening up of the Corona pandemic phase. I still find it hard to place the world under the post-pandemic title, since the pandemic is far from being wiped out and threatening of a second wave of attack in many countries.
Let's come back on the topic of onion. As a voluptuous consumer of the vegetable, as it has been widely defined, it isn't the first time that Turkish onion will get through our markets. A consignment was dispatched during the last year's onion crisis too.
However, I am keen to follow, how our and Turkish importers-exporters jointly makes the best to address the onion crisis in Bangladesh. For our importers, it's a unique opportunity for exploring a substitute country for importing onions. For the Turks, the challenge is about to seal a new export market. That said - in any export-import mechanism trust and commitment between the two parties matter the most. Due to geographical proximity, lesser time and cost our importers have traditionally depended on Indian onion. Switching from one to another faraway country definitely requires a systematic and consistent joint approach.
Whatever, onions are onions, and these days the Indian onion has lost its pungent and caustic effect to make us cry. But the effect is differently felt when a middleclass Dhaka dweller goes to buy onion in the market. The buyers' wallets have become manifested onions, the moment they open it, it makes them cry. Simultaneously, though an onion can make a person cry, I have not known, cut or tasted any vegetable that can make a person laugh. The onion tragedy has made us suffer to such extent, for us the challenge now is whether we can make an onion cry from the other way around.
However, jokes apart, it's also fascinating to follow the timing of growing Bangla-Turkey ties. As the Eastern Mediterranean gets heated up over maritime disputes - relating to hydrocarbon exploration activities between Turkey and Greece - political leaderships of us two countries continues to cement ties. The ties remained unchanged and unharmed in the wake of Hagia Sophia being reconverted to a mosque. Concurrently, Turkey has also remained markedly silent on our domestic and international affairs.
The silent diplomacy, continuing for the past couple of months actually hints to a potential long-term partnership, jointly envisioned by the political leaderships of us two countries. Growing sincere goodwill between Bangladesh and Turkey, in the past few weeks, is being often discussed formal and informal gatherings.
In fact, Erdogan government seems to have rolled out a dynamic and enterprising 'Look East policy' for Asian countries as Bangladesh. Particularly on the naval vessel repairing and onion export issues, Turkey's first-and-fast-approach has been closely followed by many here.
In the end, I have a bad habit of linking anything of Turkish origin to the vanished Ottoman Empire - humorously or seriously. But the onions grown-there-to-be-exported-here must not make us cry or laugh, instead the vegetable must make the two countries economically, and also gastronomically get closer. That said - the ball is now in the court of our importers, whether they decide to import tonnes of 'Ottoman onions' or not. Last of all, our importers mustn't expect a Turkish delight out of a Turkish onion - they will be absolutely embarrassed to do so.
The writer is assistant editor,
The Daily Observer