Bangladesh, EU willing to sign “partnership cooperation” agreement to elevate ties

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Published on November 26, 2022
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Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) on Thursday expressed willingness to sign a "partnership cooperation” agreement to elevate” the relations to next level.

However, it is still at an initial stage as it requires extensive discussions and negotiations.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam together with Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora conveyed two sides' willingness regarding such a mechanism.

They jointly briefed the media on the first ‘political dialogue’ at State guesthouse Padma Thursday evening.

“We’re not signing any agreement today. We are trying to get deeper into the issues. We can’t give you any time frame for signing the partnership cooperation agreement,” Alam said while responding to a question.

He, however, said the relations need to be taken to a newer height which means taking the relationship to a level of partnership.

The launching of the "Political Dialogue" marks a widening of cooperation between Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) into strategic and thematic areas of mutual interest and is a landmark in Bangladesh-EU partnership which will complete 50 years in 2023.

In view of the increasing importance of EU-Bangladesh relations, including in the international domain, the EU proposed to initiate discussions towards concluding a Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Bangladesh.

The PCA will enhance the dialogue between both sides on issues of global concern and give more scope for mutually-beneficial cooperation in a wide range of policy and strategic areas.

The PCA will give Bangladesh-EU relations a new legal foundation, which is "more comprehensive and up-to-date" and will respond better to current and evolving challenges.

The Bangladesh side thanked the EU for the proposal and expressed readiness to engage in discussions towards concluding a PCA.

Mora said such an agreement will provide a legal framework for cooperation in every single area including climate change, connectivity, digital sphere, security and defence.

He said Bangladesh’s “spectacular growth and achievements” allowed them to go for a broader cooperation with Bangladesh.

Mora noted the impressive growth of Bangladesh over the last one decade and said the launching of political dialogue between the two sides is a very good beginning for the next stage of cooperation.

“We are opening a new chapter in our relationship. It is important for us to work with our partners together,” he said, adding that this is the recognition of the impressive achievements of Bangladesh.

The two sides met for the first time in such high-level political dialogue for providing strategic guidance and intensifying foreign and security policy cooperation.

State Minister Alam led the Bangladesh delegation at the dialogue while Deputy Secretary General of EEAS Mora led the EU side.

Issues of shared interest such as peacebuilding, conflict prevention, Indo-Pacific, Ukraine issue, connectivity, climate change, trade, security and counter-terrorism were discussed at the dialogue.

Issues related to the Rohingya crisis were also discussed both on security and humanitarian perspectives.

The EU side highlighted their efforts to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis as Bangladesh seeks safe and quick repatriation of the Rohingyas to their homeland.

State Minister Alam said the EU signed similar agreements (partnership cooperation agreement)with the major Asean economies.

He said they discussed overall security issues and cooperation in the region including conventional and nonconventional security issues, cyber security and transnational organized crimes.

EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley was also present.

In October 2021, the two sides agreed to launch the political dialogue when Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen met the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels.

The EU acknowledged Bangladesh’s growth momentum and new confidence as a nation and looked forward to engaging further with Bangladesh on issues of shared interest, including through focus on the Indo-Pacific.