Dhaka, June 8: Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders has urged the government and democratic political parties to engage in ‘real dialogue’ for the country’s stability, democratic and economic development.
“It’s now time for the government of Bangladesh and democratic parties together to engage in real dialogue” Koenders, also Dutch Presidency for the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Security Policy and Vice President of the EC, said while delivering opening statement at a debate in the European Parliament (EP) on Bangladesh situation on Tuesday night.
Describing the recent killings as worrying, the Dutch politician said an overall new political and social consensus will need to be built in Bangladesh so that democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and political liberty can fully be promoted and protected in the country.
“It’s time to put an end to arbitrary arrest and harassment of opposition leaders to restore tolerance, open spaces for public and political debate,” Koenders said.
He said it is also essential to ensure protection and safety of all citizens and sought investigations into the brutal murders and horrifying attacks bringing those responsible to justice.
Observing that the relation between Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) is growing, the politician said the EU wants to see a Bangladesh where core values of human rights are upheld.
Laying emphasis on protection and safety of all citizens in Bangladesh, he said they will continue following the situation closely and be addressing their concerns through regular dialogue with Bangladesh government.
Talking about Bangladesh’s development goals, he said achieving the very ambitious target of becoming middle-income country by 2021 will need the involvement and determination of all Bangladesh citizens and institutions as well as support from Bangladesh’s international partners.
The Dutch politician said since January 2014 “controversial” elections boycotted by “opposition” and criticised by the international community, the political, human rights and security situation has unfortunately deteriorated in the country.
A number of Members of European Parliament (MEP) including Cristian Dan Preda, Neena Gill, Amjad Bashir and Jean Lambert took part in the hour long debate expressing their concerns over current situation in Bangladesh.
Preda described the current situation and recent killings in Bangladesh and urged the government to shed light on recent murders and attacks ensuring punishment of the attackers.
In his concluding statement, Koenders said they are worried over the rise of violent extremism and observed that human rights situation is steadily degrading, mainly at the expense of the most vulnerable segment of Bangladesh population.
The Dutch Foreign Minister also mentioned about the killing of Tonu. He said they are worried about the deterioration of political space and security situation in Bangladesh.
He said it needs to make sure that this deterioration does not continue further.
Responding to an MEP, the Dutch Minister disagreed with formally suspending trade cooperation with Bangladesh; rather he favoured supporting Bangladesh to achieve its development goals and overcoming challenges.