Disappointed EU vows to continue dialogue on Bangladesh’s new foreign donation law

The European Union, which is disappointed with Bangladesh’s new foreign donation law, will still stay focused on the process of the making of rules relating to implementation.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 17 Oct 2016, 02:44 PM
Updated : 17 Oct 2016, 02:44 PM

“That’s not the end of it. We still have space in making the implementing rules of the law,” Head of the EU delegation Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon said, replying to a question on Monday. The law was gazetted on Oct 13 amid concerns.

The ambassador was replying to queries at the ‘DCAB talk’ organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB).

Relations with the 28-nation bloc, post terror attack security situation in Dhaka, and Bangladesh’s relations with the regional countries were some of the issues that came up during the interaction, moderated by DCAB President Angur Nahar Monty and General Secretary Pantho Rahman.

As Bangladesh’s largest development partner in terms of grants, the EU had some observations on the draft foreign donations act.

It officially expressed its concerns after the ‘Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Bill 2016’ was passed by parliament.

The EU pointed out that the Bill “may introduce provisions that can prevent the smooth and timely implementation of development projects.” They have further noted the addition of a provision “limiting the freedom of expression.”

They had expected that before the President’s nod, their concerns would be accommodated in a manner that would “allow NGOs duly supported by foreign partners to continue playing a major role in the development of Bangladesh and their freedom of expression to be preserved.”

The ambassador said the EU would continue its dialogue with the government and relevant stakeholders to make sure that “it will be used in the best interest of the partners of Bangladesh, for the betterment of the people of Bangladesh.”

“We remain confident some solutions can be found,” he said, adding that Bangladesh was proud of its so many NGOs, including one of the world’s largest NGOs.

“Bangladesh has always been a NGO friendly country,” he said.

The ambassador spoke highly of EU-Bangladesh relations, and said cooperation was driven by “modernity” and at the same time by “a sense of sharing common values” with the people of Bangladesh.

He said it was also “a matter of pride” that an EU country, France, could join the first-ever Bangladesh satellite project, Bangabandhu.

He, however, said democracy and human rights were also at the top of the list as enshrined in Article-1 of the EU-Bangladesh 2OO1 co-operation agreement.

The ambassador appreciated the security measures the government had taken after the July 1 terror attack, and said they “feel better” now.

But, he said, the situation called for people “to remain extremely vigilant”, referring to the Prime Minister’s comments that further attacks could take place.

Replying to a question, he said the EU also had a strategic partnership with China, which meant “we have holistic relations, not on one, two or three sectors” and both parties cooperate at the highest possible level.

Bangladesh and China elevated their ties to the strategic partnership level during President Xi Jinping’s Dhaka visit on Friday and Saturday.

The EU is also the largest trading partner of Bangladesh where all export items enjoy duty-free market access.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher