German FM hopes killing of ‘activists’ to be probedDiplomatic Correspondent
The visiting German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle on Saturday expressed concern about the recent killing of ‘activists’ in Bangladesh.
He expected that the authorities would investigate the incidents to bring offenders to justice.
‘We certainly discussed the human rights situation in Bangladesh. We are concerned about recent killings of activists [political, labour and otherwise],’ Westerwelle said in reply to a question at a press conference held after a meeting with his counterpart Dipu Moni at the state guest house Padma. He, however, did not name any activists.
‘We expect that the incidents would be investigated and perpetrators would be brought to justice,’ he said.
Westerwelle arrived in Dhaka on a short visit on Saturday at the invitation of Dipu Moni, who also attended the press conference.
He also urged ‘all political actors’ in Bangladesh ‘to work together to uphold democracy and human rights.’
Holding free and fair elections, keeping the press free and allowing civil society to work freely ‘are important pillars of democracy,’ he said.
Claiming Germany to be Bangladesh’s ‘biggest trading partner’ in the European Union, he said that the economy of Bangladesh and Germany ‘are deeply connected.’
Bangladesh exports readymade garments and other products to Germany while it imports capital machinery, among others, from there.
The two ministers described the bilateral meeting ‘fruitful’ as Dipu Moni observed that there were no ‘contentious’ issues between the two nations.
At the meeting, Germany welcomed Bangladesh’s proposal for the development of a ‘framework’ for skills development and knowledge-centric collaboration, diplomats said.
Bangladesh proposed to revise the Agreement on Bilateral Development Cooperation, which was signed four decades ago between the two countries as a ‘framework agreement’ so that it incorporates the developments over the past four decades and the potential for the future.
The initiative would include broader academic and professional collaborations towards skills development at different levels, Dipu Moni said.
‘Obviously, this would cover particularly the school drop-outs and the imparting of industry-specific skills on them — for existing as well as evolving and newer skills in areas such as leather industry, textile industry and the entire spectrum of light engineering,’ she said.
The German minister appreciated the proposal and gave an assurance for its consideration and said that such a collaboration can gainfully be tapped by the German industry and service sectors.
Dipu Moni also requested Germany for a mutual recognition of certificates for merchant mariners from Bangladesh. The German side gave an assurance thatit would duly examine the proposal.
The German side also expressed satisfaction about the licenses granted to four German container vessels to operate on the Chittagong–Pangaon route under a set of conditions specified by the Bangladesh authorities. It appreciated Bangladesh’s decision on allowing three German political foundations to work here.
The two sides also discussed cooperation between Bangladesh and Germany at the global level on various contemporary issues.
Westerwelle separately called on the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, and the leader of the opposition in the parliament, Khaleda Zia, in their offices. He also held a meeting with a select group of civil society actors.
Earlier about 12:35pm, Dipu Moni received Westerwelle on his arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by a special flight.
The German minister is set to leave Dhaka on Sunday morning.
The German president, Christian Wulff, came to Dhaka on November 28, 2011 on a three-day official visit. The federal minister for economic cooperation and development, Dirk Niebel, came to Dhaka in June.
Hasina also visited Berlin in October 2011 while Dipu Moni visited Germany twice in 2011 and 2012.
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