We are not here to mediate or interfere: EU ambassador to Bangladesh

The EU ambassador to Bangladesh also said the EU definitely wants a free and fair election without any violence as the national elections are scheduled later this year or early next year.


Photo: UNB/ European Union in Bangladesh/Facebook

May 10, 2023

DHAKA – Democracy and human rights can never be taken for granted and must be protected and nurtured by all parts of society, said European Union Ambassador to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley yesterday.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” he said at the twin ceremony of Europe Day and EU-Bangladesh 50 years of diplomatic relations at a city hotel.

He said the EU, as a long-standing partner of Bangladesh, definitely wants a free and fair election without any violence as the national elections are scheduled later this year or early next year, but they are not here to “mediate or interfere” in politics in Bangladesh.

“We meet and listen to all political parties to understand the situation,” Whiteley said at a press conference ahead of the celebration.

He made the comment in response to questions from journalists as to why the Western countries, including the EU, have been meeting various political parties including the ruling Awami League.

The EU Ambassador said the EU and Bangladesh have been closely working on various development issues including improving democratic values, governance, trade, climate change, food security etc. Now the relations are evolving into more political, regional and global.

He lauded Bangladesh for its clear position on the Ukraine war and Indo-Pacific, saying these clearly demonstrate Bangladesh is respectful to the international order and a rules-based system, free flow of navigation and a secure sea.

The EU will work more closely on renewable energy, and infrastructure development, and support Bangladesh in its transition to graduation from LDC and in the Roninga crisis.

The EU, which imports $24 billion dollar of products from Bangladesh a year under a preferential scheme called GSP, is also eager to ensure that Bangladesh gets the same facility under the new scheme GSP Plus after the LDC graduation.

However, this will have some tougher conditions including on corruption, environment, labour standards, human rights etc.

“To make sure it happens smoothly, we will have a European Chamber of Commerce becoming operational this year,” he added.

The EU and Bangladesh will launch negotiations on a new generation agreement — ‘Partnership and Cooperation Agreement’ that will cover all sorts of policy areas — from climate change, energy, cybersecurity, maritime science, technology and also trade.

Diplomats from the EU countries including German Ambassador Achim Tröster, Swedish Ambassador Alexandra Berg von Linde, Winnie Estrup Petersen, Netherlands Ambassador Anne van Leeuwen, and Italian Ambassador Enrico Nunziata were present.

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