The European Union will discuss the formation of new Election Commission in Bangladesh at the next Bangladesh-EU joint commission meeting in Brussels in December next.
“We have a history of cooperation between the EU and the Election Commission in Bangladesh. So this is very much on top of our agenda,” said Pierre Mayaudon, the EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Bangladesh, on Monday, reports UNB.
He mentioned about the subcommittee on democracy, governance and human rights issues under which the issue of future Election Commission will be discussed at the joint commission meeting scheduled for December 20.
Responding to a question on the next general election in Bangladesh, Ambassador Mayaudon said, “[the year] 2019 is still far away but it’s not so much far actually.”
The EU Ambassador was responding to queries at DCAB Talk arranged by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) at a city hotel. DCAB President Angur Nahar Monty and General Secretary Pantho Rahman also spoke at the programme.
Mayaudon said cooperation between the EU and Bangladesh is driven by modernity and at the same time by a sense of sharing common values with the people of Bangladesh, namely democracy and human rights as enshrined in article 1 of the EU-Bangladesh 2001 Cooperation Agreement.
In line with the commitments undertaken by the EU and Bangladesh under the 2001 Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development, the 7th EU-Bangladesh Joint Commission was held in Dhaka on November 11, 2015.
The joint commission meeting took place aiming at strengthening partnership in the areas of governance, human rights and migration; trade and economic cooperation; and development cooperation.
The EU refrained from deploying any Election Observation Mission ahead of the last national election boycotted by BNP saying the EU remains nonetheless ready to observe the elections should the political conditions allow for the holding of transparent, inclusive and credible elections.
Responding to a question on security development, the EU diplomat said the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping and England cricket team, now in Bangladesh, are obviously creating a ‘sense of confidence and optimism’ in terms of security environment.
He, however, said all will have to consider the issue of security in a ‘holistic manner’ so that the objective of having ‘business as usual’ can be achieved as quickly as possible.
Mayaudon said they do not live in fear but they are conscious and laid emphasis on joint efforts to ensure security for all. “The government has taken steps to drastically improve security environment (after July 1 attack).”
Asked about the offer given by the government to provide ‘additional security to foreigners’, the diplomat said the offers have been appreciated much and the issue of hiring armed Ansar members seems to be ‘quite effective’.
On freedom of expression, Mayaudon said more freedom of expression has to be encouraged in so many ways, and the civil society should remain a voice in any country.
Responding to another query, he said Bangladesh is ‘more prominent’ on the global scene for its socio-economic development and steady economic growth though some issues have brought negative publicity.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Mayaudon said it is equally true that the EU fabric is currently under severe stress with multiple crises – economy, security, migration and terrorism.
“One thing is for sure, this challenging situation has not undermined our determination to reinforce our partnership with Bangladesh, rather the opposite,” he said.
Referring to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s, the EU envoy said global challenges have to be addressed collectively and the two challenges she identified – terrorism and climate change – are definitely among those matters where they all cooperate with Bangladesh.
Talking about growing relations with Bangladesh, the diplomat said there are many sectors like ‘Digital Bangladesh’ and ‘Blue Economy’ where the EU-Bangladesh partnership is quite promising. –RH