High ranking European Union delegates expressed their wishes to establish stronger ties with Bangladesh to the country’s ministers on Thursday in Brussels, Belgium.
European Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights Vice-Chair Cristian Dan Preda and European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos conveyed the sentiment to Bangladesh Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Anisul Huq and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, at the European Parliament and European Commission respectively.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Belgium and the EU Mohammed Shahadat Hossain and DG (Europe) Mohammad Khorshed A Khastagir, among others, were present at the meeting.
Preda emphasised the need for greater engagement between parliamentarians on both sides while recalling his visit to Bangladesh in February 2015. In addition, he mentioned the positive appraisal of the country by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) after a delegation had visited in late March 2017.
The European Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights vice-chair made the comment while Minister Anisul Huq was briefing him about significant developments in human rights in Bangladesh as well as the law and order situation in the country.
When informed by the Bangladesh Law minister at the European Parliament, both Preda and Avramopoulos particularly appreciated that the draft of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) law had been withdrawn for further review after consultation with stakeholders. Preda also accepted an offer to visit Bangladesh with other MEPs.
Furthermore, State Minister Alam thanked the EU for extending support for electoral reform in Bangladesh to modernise the election process while briefing the European Commission about formation of the new Bangladesh Election Commission, which took place after wide ranging consultations with political parties and stakeholders.
At the meeting, Commissioner Avramopoulos appreciated Bangladesh’s position on illegal migrants from the country living abroad, after the State minister reassured that they were doing everything to repatriate such individuals.
Avramopoulos also emphasised the need to build strong ties with Bangladesh for the EU’s “strategic interests in the regional context,” while expressing regret that he could not visit the country during the GFMD summit in December.
The EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship also observed that demonstrations of strong political will and determination in solving the issue of illegal Bangladeshis in EU countries would keep the door open for regular migration to the EU in the future.
He added that about 20,000 Bangladeshis had registered and regularised in EU countries in 2016.
In response to a query from Avramopoulos, Law Minister Anisul Huq informed that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), for smooth repatriation of irregular Bangladeshis from different EU member states, had been sent to his ministry so that it may be vetted.
The minister added that the precarious security situation in Libya was the cause of the recent surge in Bangladeshi migrants through the Mediterranean channel, as Bangladeshis who had long been living in the African country were forced to take difficult and dangerous routes to European shores for safety. This also led to opportunities for human traffickers.
Bangladesh also sought sustained support from the EU to resolve the Rohingya refugee crisis. Avramopoulos and his fellow EU delegates concurred that close collaboration was required between Bangladesh and Europe to combat the scourges of human trafficking, human rights violations and militancy.