Germany envoy unhappy with BNP ‘quoting’ him
German Ambassador to Bangladesh Achim Troster yesterday said he is unhappy about what the BNP told media about his meeting with the party's leaders on March 17.
After the meeting at the party chairperson's office in Gulshan, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, BNP standing committee member, told reporters that the German ambassador expressed concerns about human rights and democracy in Bangladesh.
"I was a bit unhappy about this," he said at the DCAB Talk, a flagship event of the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB), held at the Jatiya Press Club.
Troster said he and his deputy made the courtesy call as the BNP invited them.
The next day, he read in newspapers quoting the BNP leader who said the German ambassador uttered concerns about the human rights situation and democracy in Bangladesh.
"I am directly speaking to you. You can quote me. But why I should be quoted by a third party?"
Troster termed his meeting with BNP leaders as just a courtesy call-on when he wanted to know why BNP refused to participate in the national elections.
"Germany is in favour of peaceful elections and that every political player takes part in it but refrains from any violence."
Democracy and human rights are the keys to Germany's foreign policy, and the country has engaged with the Bangladesh government and the UN on this.
Germany is the second-largest export market for Bangladesh, importing some $6 billion worth of products a year.
It is also the second-largest donor to the humanitarian needs of the Rohingyas.
Germany cut development cooperation with Myanmar for the atrocity crimes against the Rohingyas.
Asked about the challenges Bangladesh faces after it graduates from the least-developed country bracket, Troster said the country will get three years grace period after graduation.
The duty-free quota will be gone after 2029 and to be succeeded by the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus, a programme of the EU that gives developing countries a special incentive to pursue sustainable development and good governance in return for zero-duty imports on more than two-thirds of the tariff lines of their exports.
To avail of the facility, Bangladesh will have to improve human rights and labour rights.
"Bangladesh is progressing and will hopefully be eligible for the new privilege," Troster said, adding that it was also one of the ten countries that were offered a partnership called Climate and Development Partnership.
If Bangladesh accepts it, the two countries will work on a range of issues on climate change including renewable energy.
Bangladesh will continue to support the Rohingya's humanitarian aspects and their repatriation back to Myanmar, he added.
Asked if Germany will speed up student visas, he said Germany encourages students for higher studies such as PhD and Masters and not so much for undergraduate-level study.
DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus and General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke.