Germany, a partner in progress
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle's visit to Dhaka with a high level business delegation has provided fresh impetus to the already friendly and mutually beneficial relationship between our two countries.
There is a plenty of substance to the bilateral partnership. Germany, the largest economy of the Euro zone, happens to be our largest trade partner in Europe. Bangladesh's export to Germany has touched three billion euros a year.
In the last four decades we have received two billion euros in development assistance from Germany. Only recently we have been provided a soft loan of 60 million euros for power transmission.
Germany is the country which has propelled the growth of our ship building industry. It is an inspiring recognition from a top engineering country that Germany places orders for importing sea-worthy vessels from Bangladesh on a steady scale. According to the German foreign minister our ship building industry enjoys 'high reputation' in his country.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle's emphasis on a vibrant private sector, good infrastructure and reliable energy supply finds resonance with the economic experts' views in our country.
Given this backdrop of partnership with Germany, it is only natural that as a well-wisher for Bangladesh the German FM has expressed some concerns about the prevailing situation in the country. These centre around strengthening democracy through a process of reconciliation and understanding between all political actors and upholding human rights in Bangladesh.
Our foreign ministry in a late evening press statement "recorded its surprise" at the remarks by the German Foreign Minister that included comments on "free civil society, freedom of expression and …..latest human rights situation…….." The ministry warned that "Making public statement about issues never raised …… has the potential to affect bilateral trust and long-engaging mutually beneficial relationship."
We find our foreign ministry's reaction far too overblown than the situation calls for, and suggesting that it may affect our bilateral "trust" and "beneficial relationship" not only hasty but seriously falling short of experienced handling. If the German minister raised issues that were not discussed, then summoning the CDA and conveying our "dismay" would be, in our view, quite sufficient. Issuing a press statement was not necessary, and hinting at a possible impact on our bilateral relationship was hardly diplomatic, and is not likely to serve the best interest of Bangladesh.