Forty years of diplomatic relations
Westerwelle with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
© Th. Imo, photothek / AA
Guido Westerwelle has paid his first visit to Bangladesh as Foreign Minister. In the capital of Dhaka his agenda included talks with government officials as well as meetings with representatives of civil society. On 23 June Westerwelle met Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other interlocutors. He had flown to Bangladesh from the southern Indian city of Bangalore, where among his other engagements he opened a key event of the Year of Germany in India.
“Germany and Bangladesh can now look back on forty years of friendly ties,” Foreign Minister Westerwelle emphasized in Dhaka. Germany was one of the first countries to recognize Bangladesh independence in 1972. Since then Germany has made available over two billion euros for development cooperation with this South Asian country. As its number one trading partner in the EU, Germany was keen to expand this partnership, Westerwelle explained. The Foreign Minister was accordingly accompanied by a German business delegation.
Visiting a school in Dhaka
© Th. Imo/Photothek/AA
Other major areas of the two countries’ bilateral cooperation are education and vocational training. Hence Westerwelle’s schedule in Dhaka included a visit to a school in one of the city’s poorer districts. Another issue raised in his talks was human rights. The German Foreign Minister expressed his concern about the recent killings of human rights activists in Bangladesh. “There can be no democracy without a free civil society, a free press and free elections,” he stressed. It was crucial to strengthen respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni highlighted the “excellent bilateral relations between Germany and Bangladesh”. In the field of education, trade, investment and development Germany was a “reliable friend”, she added.
The Buriganga River, Dhaka
© picture-alliance / Lonely Planet Images
The two countries are also collaborating in the field of climate protection and are campaigning for a globally binding agreement to combat climate change. Minister Dipu Moni voiced concern about the impact of the eurozone crisis on the world’s poorer countries, which were already struggling to cope with the consequences of climate change for which they bore no responsibility. Foreign Minister Westerwelle noted that climate protection and support for renewable energies were key areas of Germany’s cooperation with Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world and has long been a priority partner country for Germany’s development cooperation efforts. Support is given above all to projects in the areas of good governance, human rights, improving energy efficiency and promoting renewable energies. Projects to limit the consequences of climate change also receive support. As a flat, densely populated country, Bangladesh is especially affected by rising sea levels caused by climate change.
Last updated 22.06.2012