• Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Icy diplomacy

Rezaul Karim and Refayet Ullah Mirdha

A serious diplomatic standstill has been created over the last few months as most countries have suspended bilateral and multilateral engagements with Bangladesh due to the deadly violence centring on the election.
Diplomatic sources say there has been no official visit for negotiations for aid, loan, project approval or development initiative for long, except for those from countries like the US, the UK, China and India that are closely associated politically with Bangladesh.
They add countries like Japan, Korea and Australia and most European and western countries have almost suspended all of their activities here.
Bangladesh officials said it would be very difficult to make up for the pending engagements with the foreign countries if the current standstill was not removed immediately.
From European Union, the last visit was paid by a five-member Election Exploratory Mission from September 7 to 23.
There has been no high-level visit from Korea, an important development partner of Bangladesh, for long because of the political uncertainty, said a diplomat of the Korean embassy in Dhaka.
Similarly, Japan, a long-time friend and important stakeholder in Bangladesh, has suspended visits of any official or trade delegation due to the political confrontation and street violence.
 Senior officials at the foreign ministry said they had many important pending issues with a good number of countries, but those are not being resolved as officials and government leaders of foreign countries were not at all eager to visit Bangladesh.
The officials are also uncertain about the upcoming events.
“There is no indication of any bilateral meeting by any country as most countries are totally confused about the future government, after the US, the EU and Commonwealth have refused to observe the January 5 controversial election,” said a senior official at the foreign ministry.
Dozens of bilateral meetings with several important countries are pending, which is harming Bangladesh, the official told The Daily Star, requesting anonymity.
He said foreign diplomats based in Dhaka had been passing suffocating times for the past two months, as they could not move freely due to the political turbulence.
 Many of them have even left Dhaka with their families on long vacation, as they thought the political stalemate would last long.
Instead of going to their offices, local UN officials and other missions have been working from home.


Published: 12:00 am Thursday, December 26, 2013

Last modified: 10:05 pm Thursday, December 26, 2013

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