India will train 1,800 civil servants from Bangladesh in ethics in administration and public policy among other areas of governance.
In this regard, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on February 08, between the Ministry of Public Administration of Government of Bangladesh and the National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG), an institute under the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), India.
The MoU was signed at the fifth meeting of the Bangladesh-India Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) held in New Delhi.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj co-chaired the JCC meeting. Bangladesh Foreign Minister made his first visit to India after taking office.
Regarding the training program, K V Eapen, Secretary DARPG and Director General of NCGG, said the Indian media that the collaboration represents a historic milestone in training and capacity building programs between India and Bangladesh.
He said that Bangladesh civil servants will be trained in e-governance and service delivery, public policy and implementation, information technology, decentralization, urban development and planning, ethics in Administration and challenges in implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs).
This is the second time that the NCGG has signed an MOU for a training program for Bangladesh civil servants.
Under the first MOU signed five years ago, 1,500 Bangladesh civil servants were trained by the NCGG.
The participants of the training program will be selected among from deputy commissioners/additional district magistrates, Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNO), deputy director local government, senior assistant secretaries, senior assistant commissioners, assistant commissioners (land) and officers of equivalent rank in the ministries from Bangladesh civil service (administration) cadre.
The NCGG is planning to conduct 15 training programs this year, each of two weeks duration.
The trainee officers will undergo training at the NCGG Mussoorie centre and in Delhi where they would visit Government of India establishments.
Bangladesh side, however, gave no details in this regard.
Bangladesh and India signed all together four Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) to further strengthen the existing “multifaceted cooperation” between the two countries at the fifth meeting of the Bangladesh-India Joint Consultative Commission (JCC)
The first MoU was signed on mid-career training of 1,800 Bangladesh civil servants while second MoU signed between AYUSH and the Ministry of Health of Bangladesh on cooperation in the field of medicinal plants.
The third MoU was signed between Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh and Central Bureau of Investigation of India.
And, the fourth MoU was signed between Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority and Hiranandani Group to facilitate investment in the Indian Economic Zone in Mongla.
During the meeting, the Ministers discussed the gamut of bilateral issues of mutual interest. They reviewed ongoing cooperation including the implementation of decisions taken during the visits of Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, as well as at the last meeting of JCC in October 2017, in Dhaka.
Both Ministers expressed satisfaction that both countries are working closer than ever before in every sector, from security and border management to mutually-beneficial trade and investment flows, power and energy, river water sharing, development partnership, transport connectivity, culture, people-to-people contacts.
Foreign Minister Dr. Momen called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and conveyed the greetings of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during his visit to Delhi.
Sustainable Development Will Not Happen Without Democracy: EU Envoy
Appreciating the impressive economic performance of Bangladesh, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink said on February 2, a sustainable development wouldn’t be achieved without democracy. She said human rights are the integral part of the EU-Bangladesh relationship.
She came up with the remarks while delivering her keynote speech at a symposium. Cosmos Foundation organized the symposium titled ‘Bangladesh-European Union Relations: Prognosis for the Future’ at Six Seasons Hotel in the city.
“I think sustaining and accelerating this growth is, of course, the real challenge for the new government,” said the Ambassador.
The Ambassador said they are also very keen to pursue and enhance engagement with this new government with a view to contributing and supporting the deepening of democracy without which, she thinks, a sustainable development will not happen.
Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque attended the event as the chief guest, which was held with Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Principal Research Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore, in the chair.
Foreign Secretary said the relationship between Bangladesh and the EU is a very mature and dynamic one as both sides understand each other’s concerns well.
“You must have noticed by now that Bangladesh is not only looking at the EU but it’s also the centerpiece of our foreign policy,” he said adding that not only the EU is evolving but Bangladesh is also evolving -- the relationship is evolving.
Ambassador Teerink stressed the importance of export diversification and boosting foreign and local investment to help the country grow in a faster way. “So, my point of export diversification should be taken as a political priority.”
Talking about the passage from the EU’s current Everything but Arms (EBA) to GSP+ trade privilege, the EU Ambassador said GSP+ is not something that is automatic to become eligible as Bangladesh will have to ratify, implement and accept 27 core conventions on human rights, labor rights, environmental and good governance standards.
“This is an important task. I think it would be good to prioritize this and set up relevant taskforce to establish a multi-annual reform action plan,” said Ambassador Teerink.
The EU Ambassador said they are committed to working with the civil society of Bangladesh as they look back the enormous role played by big NGOs in Bangladesh.
She said this is an area they want to continue working together as the civil society with all its diversity represents a crucial component of any democracy. “So, it’s an asset to promote good governance and improve accountability.”
Ambassador Teerink said they wish to explore cultural diplomacy and showcase Bangladesh’s cultural richness to Europe apart from strengthening people-to-people contact.
German Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Fahrenholtz, French Ambassador to Bangladesh Marie-Annick Bourdin, UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo, British Deputy High Commissioner to Bangladesh Kanbar Hossein-Bor also spoke in the program.
Canada Calls For Transition Plan Talking Rohingya Crisis
Canada wants a transition plan for the Rohingya crisis as the repatriation process appeared to be slow and the Rohingyas are not interested in returning to Myanmar on the grounds of insecurity and non-conducive conditions in Rakhine State.
Bob Rae, Canadian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Myanmar came with the suggestions while speaking at a panel discussion on “potential long-term implication of Rohingya crisis” jointly organized by Canadian High Commission in Bangladesh and Reading Club Trust at The Hotel Westin on February 5. Diplomats, academics, students and civil society members attended the program.
“Not short or long-term, we need to make a transition plan for the Rohingyas,” said Bob Rae. He insisted on providing education and income generating activities for the refugees with their repatriation efforts continuing.
“If they do not get education and jobs, they would turn to crimes and radicalization,” he warned.
Bob Rae said, “It is a heavy burden and a political challenge for Bangladesh to provide humanitarian assistance to over a million Rohingyas, including some 750,000 who fled military atrocities since August 2017. The world must recognize it.”
Bob Rae stressed that those responsible for the atrocities against the Rohingyas must face accountability. The process has progressed and it will have to continue. He, however, said imposing sanctions against Myanmar might not work.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, however, called for continuous pressure on Myanmar from the international community for Rohingya repatriation.
The minister agreed on a stronger engagement with Myanmar. He said ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) assured Bangladesh of extending its cooperation in solving the Rohingya crisis.
Security analyst Maj Gen (retd) ANM Muniruzzaman said a number of security threats had been identified concerning the Rohingyas. Those include drug, arms and sex trafficking, as well as radicalization of the Rohingyas.
Chakma Raja Debashish Roy said China could be a key player in helping address the crisis, and there must be some other countries to convince China to play the role.
Brig Gen (retd) Sakhawat Hussain, a veteran security analyst, suggested more engagements with Myanmar, including with the civil society, academics and retired military officials, for building mutual trust.
Benoit Prefontaine, Canadian high commissioner to Bangladesh, also spoke at the discussion moderated by Dhaka University Prof Syed Munir Khasru.
Bangladesh Can Play A Central Role In IPS: USA
Terming Bangladesh’s geographical location as ‘important’, Thomas L. Vajda, US acting deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said Bangladesh can play a central role in the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS).
He made this comment while talking to media personnel during his visit to Bangladesh.
Vajda, who arrived in Dhaka on February 9, for a three-day official visit. He had extensive discussion with Post, Telecommunication and ICT minister Mostafa Jabbar, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Recourses Nasrul Hamid, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and the business community.
“Our economic commitment in Bangladesh is robust. We are Bangladesh's biggest export market, we are the largest foreign investor,” he said.
“We have launched new initiatives under the Indo-Pacific vision to expand our partnership with the private sector in the areas of energy, digital economy and infrastructure,” added he.
The State Department official said Bangladesh shares US goals of building a more prosperous, secure and interconnected region, and with its strategic location and fast-growing economy, it can play a central role in the Indo-Pacific.
Asked about the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and USA's IPS, he said, “We don't want to create a situation where one has to choose between two nations. We are trying to create an open environment where nations are free to choose what's right for them and for their future.”
“One message I conveyed in my meetings with government officials is economic development and respect for democracy and human rights are mutually reinforcing, not competing objectives,” he said.
“American businesses want to invest in countries that operate transparently, uphold the rule of law, and protect individual rights, and they are watching developments in Bangladesh,” he added.
On February 6th, US Ambassador in Bangladesh Earl R Miller met with Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi at the minister's secretariat office. He also emphasized on Bangladesh’s role in Indo-Pacific initiatives during the meeting with the minister.
“The US values the partnership of Bangladesh. Bangladesh can play the key role in the US’s Indo-Pacific strategy and reap a significant benefit from it,” said Miller.
Bangladesh-India Relations A ‘Model’ For The World: Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed Bangladesh-India relations as a ‘model’ for the world.
He expressed the views while Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen called on him at his office, said a press release issued by the High Commission of Bangladesh in New Delhi.
On February 7, Bangladesh Foreign Minister called on Prime Minister Modi and conveyed the greetings of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Prime Minister Modi mentioned that the partnership between Bangladesh and India is flourishing under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He reaffirmed India’s sincere commitment for Bangladesh’s prosperity and development. “Bangladesh-India relations is a model between two neighboring countries which needs to be showcased for wider audience around the world,” viewed Prime Minister Modi.
Foreign Minister Momen expressed his satisfaction on the excellent bilateral relations that exist between the two countries which has grown and prospered, especially with the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister Modi.
He stressed that Bangladesh would continue her resolve in further strengthening and deepening her relations with India in the coming days.
While thanking Prime Minister Modi for India's humanitarian assistance to Rohingyas, Bangladesh Foreign Minister requested India’s support for early repatriation of the Rohingyas to Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Prime Minister Modi reiterated that India is always with Bangladesh and assured of India’s cooperation in this regard.
Jakarta Pledges Effective Role In Resolving Rohingya Crisis
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi said her country will play an effective role in resolving the Rohingya crisis.
She made the remarks while meeting with her Bangladesh counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban in the city on February 4.
“Indonesia is keen to play a more effective role under the preview of regional, bilateral and multilateral fora in resolving the Rohingya crisis,” said the minister.
The Indonesian Foreign Minister arrived in Dhaka on February 3, at night on a one-day official visit to greet Sheikh Hasina on her re-election as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the fourth term.
She said Indonesia will enhance bilateral ties with Bangladesh on all fronts and maintain her country’s cooperation in different sectors in the coming days.
During the meeting, both the ministers expressed satisfaction as discussion over the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) will begin shortly. They expected that the PTA will be signed very soon.
Dr Momen urged his Indonesian counterpart to quicken the approval for setting up Bangabandhu Satellite Carrier Monitoring System in Jakarta.
This monitoring system will help people of different countries of the region to benefit from the satellite, he said.
Indonesian Foreign Minister showed her country’s interest to start direct air flight between Dhaka and Jakarta to boost bilateral trade, especially the tourism sector.
Indonesia has long been granting visa-free facility to Bangladeshi passport holders to visit the South East Asian nation.
The Indonesian Foreign Minister also called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban office. They exchanged views on the issues of mutual interest.
She left Dhaka on February 4, at night wrapping up her one-day visit to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh-Austria Aim To Deepen Ties
Bangladesh and Austria showed keen interest to work together to deepen and widen the areas of cooperation, particularly in trade, vocational training and renewable energy. Both countries are also eager to establish the direct air link between Dhaka and Vienna.
On February20, a bilateral meeting between Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria Karin Kneissl was held at state guesthouse Meghna.
After the meeting, the two ministers told media in a joint press briefing that they discussed current state and prospects of bilateral relations, noting the positive development of cooperation in various areas.
Kneissl lauded Bangladesh's “impressive development and amazing achievements” in the last one decade and assured to remain a stronger partner in its development journey.
One of the priorities of her visit was to join the observance of International Mother Language Day. She and her delegation members also called on President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban.
In the press briefing, Bangladesh Foreign Minister said establishing direct air connectivity would help create more avenues of cooperation with enhanced trade relations.
He said the Austrian foreign minister and her team came here to help Bangladesh as a partner and assured to provide cooperation, support and expertise in areas of education, power generation, renewable energy and skill development.
On the Rohingya issue, the Foreign Minister said it was discussed with due importance and Austria promised to do its part through the European Union.
Austrian Foreign Minister highly appreciated the tremendous efforts of Bangladesh and its people in providing humanitarian support to Rohingya Muslim minorities.
She said her country was working with the EU in its efforts to resolve the Rohingya crisis and mentioned that the EU remains serious about the cause.
“We are in a similar situation. We had also welcomed refugees. We know the burden it has on the society,” she said.
The Austrian Foreign Minister came to Bangladesh on February 19, for a 3-day visit with the invitation of Bangladesh Foreign Minister.
Dhaka tells UN it cannot take any more Rohingya
Bangladesh has told t e UN Security Council it cannot take any more Rohingya h refugees from Myanmar, some 18 months after more than 700,000 Rohingyas fled across the border amid a brutal military crackdown.
"I regret to inform the council that Bangladesh would no longer be in a position to accommodate more people from Myanmar," Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told the UN on February 28.
He accused Myanmar of "hollow promises and various obstructionist approaches" during negotiations on returns.
"Not a single Rohingya has volunteered to return to Rakhine due to the absence of conducive environment there," He said.
Myanmar says it has been ready to accept returning refugees since January, but the Rohingya say they want guarantees over their safety and to be recognized as citizens before they go back to Rakhine.
The UN says conditions are not yet right for their return. The Western powers on the council lamented the lack of action from Myanmar's government.
"We're very disappointed ... that there hasn't been more progress on getting the refugees back and that obviously includes creating the conditions where the refugees feel able to go back," Karen Pierce, Britain's UN Ambassador, told the council.
Several council members stressed the return of refugees needed to be safe, voluntary, dignified and secure, and pushed for the Myanmar government to allow the UN widespread and unconditional access to Rakhin state.
UN envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner-Burgener told the council that the UN access was currently "insufficient".
"The scale of what has been done to the Rohingya Muslims and the allegations of crimes against humanity really mark this out as one of the most terrible events of this century so far," she said.
The 15-member UNSC has been split over how to deal with the crisis, with Western powers pitted against Russia and China, an ally of Myanmar.
China's Deputy UN Ambassador Wu Haitao said it was mainly an issue between Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh "and as such it is up to the two countries to work out a solution".
Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy agreed with Chinese position.
Deputy US Ambassador Jonathan Cohen said: "The international community cannot ignore the world's largest refugee camp."
In December 2018, Britain circulated a draft resolution to council members that diplomats said aims to put a timeline on Myanmar allowing the return of refugees and addressing accountability, but China and Russia have boycotted talks on the draft.
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