Message of the Ambassador for the Bastille Day
It is for me a great honour and pleasure to convey my best wishes to the People of Bangladesh and my warmest regards to the French community in this country on the occasion of the French national day.
The French National Day offers an opportunity to remind us that the main ideals of the Bastille Day have to be endlessly defended. I am happy to remember these values today with our Bangladeshi friends, who so bravely fought for their independence, and showed their commitment in the restoration of democracy that we so cherish. In this regard, Bangladesh is heading towards a significant period of its political history, with the upcoming general elections. We strongly hope that all the parties will be able to hold a fruitful dialogue, which would allow holding free, fair and credible elections.
Bangladesh witnessed a terrible tragedy last April 24th when the Rana Plaza building in Savar collapsed, causing the death of more than 1100 textile workers. With the help of foreign countries, and the expertise of ILO, we are confident that the necessary reforms will be undertaken by the Bangladeshi authorities in order to put the country legislation in line with the international standards set in labour law. This was the motivation of the visit made by our ambassador for human rights, M. François Zimmeray, in the end of the month of may this year, when he came to make an assessment on the situation in the textile industry in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza catastrophe in order to envisage possible bilateral cooperations which could help Bangladesh to reach that goal.
In this context we are convinced that the GSP facility, that Bangladesh benefits in its economic relations with the European Union, is an incentive to undertake the necessary reforms as soon as possible and according to a precise roadmap. Taking into account the efforts undertaken so far by the Government of Bangladesh, in our opinion it should not be suspended or withdrawn.
Our bilateral relationship with Bangladesh is developing harmoniously. On many international issues, such as multilateralism, diversity of culture, protection of the environment, both our countries share the same views. France greatly appreciates Bangladesh’s foreign policy and particularly its involvement in the United Nations system, and especially its important contribution to peacekeeping operations, where French and Bangladeshi troops often operate side by side.
On June 26th, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Dipu MONI, had fruitful meetings with her counterpart, Mr Laurent FABIUS, and also with Mr Pascal CANFIN, Minister delegate for Development, as well as with Mrs Nicole BRICQ, Minister for External Trade. These meetings have set the framework for strengthening bilateral cooperation on many important issues and particularly with the COP 25 which will be hosted by France in 2015, on climate change and environment.
France is contributing to the development of this country by co-funding projects run by the European Union. Moreover the French development agency, Agence Française de Développement, which resumed its activities in Bangladesh early last year has already signed a 45MUS$ loan to co-finance the Dhaka Bus Rapid Transit System project. As for the future, they are planning to expand their activities to urban infrastructures, water supply and clean and sustainable energy. Besides PROPARCO, their subsidiary dedicated to the financing of the private sector may expand its activities to Bangladesh and focus on projects related to climate change mitigation, energy efficiency or water management.
Besides for an export oriented country like Bangladesh, trade is as important as aid, and in this respect France represents its fourth largest market with revenues amounting to more than 1,5 billion euros a year.
For many years major French companies have chosen to invest in Bangladesh. One of the best examples would be the Lafarge Surma cement factory, which is one of the main foreign investors in the country. We are confident that with the help of the very active France Bangladesh chamber of commerce, which is now the official correspondent of the French trade promotion regional office in New Delhi, many more French companies will follow this example and will come to settle down in, or trade with this country so rich in opportunities.
The basis of any enduring relationship is the human and personal element. This explains the emphasis we place in promoting French culture and language. In this regard the Alliances françaises of Dhaka and Chittagong play a vital role as the interface between our two countries. I wish to thank their boards and their staff for their commitment in promoting the cooperation between our two countries.
On this gracious occasion, let me assure all that the French embassy in Bangladesh will continue to further strengthen the friendly relations and actively promote the exchanges between our two countries.