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Head of EU delegation holds ‘forward looking discussion’ with Hasan

by The Bangla Herald

Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley today termed his maiden meeting with the new foreign minister, Hasan Mahmud, as a “forward looking discussion”.

“This is a very much forward looking discussion, about how now we (EU) will build the bricks of a modern relationship with Bangladesh,” he told reporters emerging from the meeting with Hasan Mahmud at the Foreign Ministry this afternoon.

The envoy said the EU is going to start negotiations with Bangladesh on the Partnership Cooperation Agreement very soon which he sees as a new generation deal involving wide-ranging issues.

“We are going to start negotiating a new partnership and cooperation agreement very soon. It is a very wide-ranging new generation agreement; we only have one other in South Asia covering all different policy areas of collaboration” he said.

Charles said the intending partnership cooperation agreement with Bangladesh is much more political in nature while the EU’s existing agreement with Bangladesh mainly focused on development and cooperation.

“I think the next five years will be seeing a step change in our relationship and that would be driven by the new partnership cooperation agreement,” he said, adding that the new agreement will also focus on development cooperation along with political front.

The ambassador said they talked about the Bangladesh and EU cooperation on Rohingya crisis, climate change and renewable energy.

Besides, he said, they also talked about the global situations, like “what’s happening in the Middle East, Russian aggression in Ukraine- which is of course a huge priority for the European Union”.

“We have mature discussions on respective foreign policy, not just about what’s important in our immediate bilateral relations but what’s happening in the wider world and how Bangladesh and the European Union can influence things have shared priority … so of course (that) includes the Middle East and of course, include Ukraine complex,” he said.

“So, it is a very fruitful first meeting and dynamic discussion and we look forward the European Union taking forward EU-Bangladesh relations with the honourable (Bangladesh) Prime Minister,” Charles said.

Replying to a question whether the ambassador raised any question regarding the January 7th election, the EU envoy said,

“No, election happened and we made (our) statement on that, this (today’s meeting) is a very much forward looking discussion.”

Charles expressed his joy that Hasan Mahmud had very strong connections with Belgium, which is the headquarters of the European Union.

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