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Africa-France Summit 2021: A Real Revival or a Trick?

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On October 8–9, the New Africa-France 2021 Summit was held in Montpellier. Partially covered by French mainstream media, the event was nevertheless quite important and telling as far as the Franco-African relations are concerned. Beyond the criticism during this meeting, some critical writers, such as the Senegalese Boubacar Boris Diop for Mediapart, have attacked the Summit, labelling it as a symbol of a “New Look of Françafrique”. Why such criticism of the new mode of dialogue between Africa and France?

A more informal format rather than the official Leaders’ Summit

Concretely, the conference specificities were to gather representatives of civil society rather than state officials (no heads of state were invited). Among the guests, there were some 3,000 young entrepreneurs, civil society activists, artists or sportsmen from the African continent but also those from the diaspora.

Interestingly, English-speaking nations appear among the 12 countries that instigated the process since early 2021. These include Angola, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, on which President Macron has been focusing since 2017, without much concretization in terms of projects. In addition, more traditional Francophone nations have also joined the call: Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, the Republic of the Congo and Tunisia. Others will probably join the next edition. On the one hand, this format is not exactly brand-new, being close to the U.S.-Africa Business Summit, which celebrated its 13th edition on July 27–29, 2021. On the other hand, it still differs from U.S.–Africa Leaders, Turkey–Africa or Russia–Africa Summits that host heads of state or government.

Besides, the more informal format of the summit often reflects the incompleteness that formal consultation platforms can represent. Indirectly, a better relationship with civil society could support effective lobbying of policy and legislative bodies. In the particular case of Africa, the implementation of the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) since January 1, 2021 may also give leverage to such business consultation platforms, through the processes of normative harmonization that it may gradually bring about. While political elites and leaders are the prime targets for implementing particular development policies and partnerships, civil societies often end up being the ultimate business partners in the long run. They are also likely to be more stable than political elites (the Euro-Russian exchanges testify to this assumption).

Back to the Africa-France Summit of 2021, the items on the agenda were gender equality, official development assistance and its impacts, democracy and governance, biodiversity conservation, new technologies, employability and youth mobility. These issues were in parallel to priorities such as access to school and higher education, increasing opportunities for mobility, supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, accompanying Africa in the front line of the climate transition and forging a new common consciousness, notably by strengthening links of memory.

Interestingly, French-designed priorities for this edition were quite different from the ones of the U.S.-Africa Business Summit, whose priorities were health security, trade, energy, agribusiness, digital transformation, manufacture, finance women and diaspora-empowered trade. To put it plainly, the American agenda dealt with investments and trade, whereas the French agenda had more to do with political and governmental matters, although it was held with representatives of civil society.

However, France’s initiative still shows a willingness to move slightly from a diplomatic narrative to a more informal relationship with partners in Africa. As Rémy Rioux (CEO of the French Development Agency) pointed out to France 24 on October 8 in the margins of the summit, Emmanuel Macron wants to normalise relations, recalibrating them by talking less about assistance and more about investment.

France’s troubling communication on the eve of an important Summit

This summit took place in a sensitive context. Not as a first episode, the Franco-Algerian relations have seen tensions following Macron’s remarks on the “memory rent” of the Algerian political elite, which led—among other reasons—to a diplomatic dispute and the recall of the Algerian ambassador. If the end of the Bouteflika era suggested a return to the polarisation of memorial issues, this episode constitutes a particularly tense crisis point.

Shortly before this episode with Algeria, France was the target of the Malian Prime Minister, Choguel Maigan, who, speaking at the UN on September 25, denounced a “rural abandonment” by France, referring to the end of the Barkhane military operation. These comments were described by Emmanuel Macron on 28 September as “shameful and dishonourable for what is not even a government.”

As a result, the Summit was held in a tough context. However, this calls into question French communication with African partners. Is it just a bad coverage or a paving stone in the pond reflecting the need for France to reposition politically? Or could it perform as a destabilisation strategy to force a change of position on the African side?

Combined with the new format of the summit, they certainly reflect the desire of France and the Macron government’s foreign policy to redefine the relationship with Africa and move away from post-colonial memory and struggles. In reactionary terms, the effect seems to be the opposite of the objective. The more attempts at erasure and discussion come in, the more the fire seems to be stoked. Of course, these attempts are only a framework. Generational factors affecting mutual perceptions cannot be changed so quickly. However, this new Summit could serve as a forum for Franco-African civil societies to cooperate in a way that is different from the more formal diplomatic modes of cooperation. This will obviously be a complementary format to diplomacy, but no less important.

A Summit whose success was limited by political considerations – Translation of a relationship with emotional overtones

Rather unclear before the Summit, this common consciousness was mentioned by the French president as the will to develop a common historical narrative intended to educate French and African youth in a convergent manner and to avoid memorial conflicts. How appropriate was this topic for a summit with African civil societies? It may well reflect the substance of the issues at stake in the relationship.

Although this summit aimed to reconsider the links between civil societies, the issues addressed were mainly political and referred to colonial history. Among them, the management of the CFA Franc, the relationship with regimes deemed dictatorial or the Senegalese riflemen (tirailleurs sénégalais)… President Macron evoked the “responsibility” of France in slavery and colonisation. Quoting the French President, “a country like France has a duty to respond to the demands of African youth (…). We cannot have a project for the future (…) if it does not assume its share of Africaness” considering “nearly seven million French people whose lives are intimately, family, directly, in the first or second generation, linked to Africa. (…)”. If the tone is necessarily adapted to the audience, these words are informally binding and France seems to take this risk.

While the objective of the Summit is to serve as a frame to a redefinition of the relationship, the political tinge remains full of old shadows. At this issue, Macron explicitly refused any forgiveness, considering (quoting Paul Ricoeur) that there is no politics of forgiveness but rather a politics of recognition and promises. This allusion is significant because Ricoeur, in his work on the ethics of forgiveness, completely rejects the idea of a politics of forgiveness. For him, “people are incapable of forgiving, of leaving the friend-enemy relationship” [1].

In short, the form of the Summit reflects the desire to manifest a possible Africanisation of Africa-France relations rather than a unilateral “francisation” of relations as some African comments would have us believe. Nevertheless, the debates that took place showed the difficulty that would be evident in cultivating a new narrative and the colonial memory page that remains open on the African side.

If President Macron is forced to make a big difference between no apology and a willingness to engage in genuine dialogue, its play is not well readable to the public opinion, even in France as pointed out by some newspapers. Besides, the French military disengagement with the end of Operation Barkhane (early 2022) and this new module, which aims to reach out to civil societies, will demonstrate a range of strategies for rethinking Africa-France relations. The assumption of empowering disengagement—rebalancing of relations—may be favoured as the route to normalised relationships.

Formats competing with France and highlighting the competitive advantage of powers deemed non-colonial

To broaden the perspective of this summit, it is also necessary to mention the equivalent models to which other states aspire. In terms of both trade and influence, counterparts to France include Turkey, Russia and China. From 21 to 23 October, the Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum took place. Both with civil societies and state officials, it hosted 3,000 African and Turkish businesspeople as well as government ministers and other top officials from 45 African countries. It thus gathered a larger audience than the French Summit did. In addition, just before the Summit, Erdogan paid a four-day visit to the African continent where he presented Turkey as an alternative partner to post-colonial actors (setting the Ottoman period aside).

Another actor challenging France in terms of political influence is Russia, which in another dimension than Turkey has the reputation in France of “flirting with anti-imperialist sentiments”. Its model uses consultation platforms as well, such as the first Russia-Africa Summit held in October 2019, with the second Summit scheduled for 2022. It is, instead, a very formal format bringing together heads of state or government. The 2019 format was a great success, showing the growing importance of Russia in engaging nations in Africa.

In this respect, Russia’s competitive advantage, like other reputed ‘anti-imperialist powers’, lies in its distance from modern colonial history, as is also the case with China, which gives it a certain leverage. Relations with civil societies are less constrained by the wounds of history on the one hand, and it is easier to deal with political leaders on strategic issues on the other. The strengthening of these connections partly explains the growing tensions between France and Russia on certain high-stakes operations such as in Mali, where France (Florence Parly, Ministry of the Armed Forces) asked Malian authorities to refuse the support of the Wagner Group or risk losing international support.

Finally, and by way of conclusion, as a French expert and multi-ambassador to Africa (who wished to remain anonymous) told the author of the column recently, relations between France and Africa suffer from misperception. It is often claimed that the French discourse does not fully support African empowerment, while to say this undermines the idea that every state is sovereign. In his view, the view of relations with Africa is infantilising and should, therefore, always proceed from the assumption that every state is sovereign. From sovereignty, more or less independent and responsible relations follow.

While such a position may seem harsh from a diplomatic point of view, the format of privileging relations with civil societies as a medium for commercial and cultural exchange must be the means for an accountable and sustainable relationship. In this regard, emphasising Anglophone Africa is a path to development for France but this should not be at the expense of using the liabilities in the former colonies.

1. Paul Ricoeur, La mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli, 2003, p.617-618

From our partner RIAC


The Economist: “Europe looks like… a sucker”

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© European Union 2019 – EP

Don’t be fooled by the rush of good news from Europe in the past few weeks. A brutal economic squeeze will pose a test of Europe’s resilience in 2023 and beyond, – predicts “The Economist”.

There is a growing fear that the recasting of the global energy system, American economic populism and geopolitical rifts threaten the long-run competitiveness of the European Union and non-members, including Britain.

Energy prices are down from the summer and a run of good weather means that gas storage is nearly full. But the energy crisis still poses dangers.

Gas prices are six times higher than their long-run average. On November 22nd Russia threatened to throttle the last operational pipeline to Europe. Europe’s gas storage will need to be refilled once again in 2023, this time without any piped Russian gas whatsoever.

The war is also creating financial vulnerabilities. Energy inflation is spilling over into the rest of Europe’s economy, creating an acute dilemma for the European Central Bank. It needs to raise interest rates to control prices. But if it goes too far it could destabilize the Eurozone’s weaker members, not least indebted Italy.

Too many of Europe’s industrial firms, especially German ones, have relied on abundant energy inputs from Russia. The prospect of severed relations with Russia, structurally higher costs and a decoupling of the West and China has meant a reckoning in many boardrooms.

That fear has been amplified by America’s economic nationalism which threatens to draw activity across the Atlantic in a whirlwind of subsidies and protectionism. President Joe Biden’s ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ involves $400 bn of handouts for energy, manufacturing and transport and includes make-in-America provisions.

In many ways the scheme resembles the industrial policies that China has pursued for decades. As the other two pillars of the world economy become more interventionist and protectionist, Europe, with its quaint insistence on upholding World Trade Organization rules on free trade, looks like a sucker.

Many bosses warn that the combination of expensive energy and American subsidies leaves Europe at risk of mass deindustrialization.

Compared with its pre-COVID GDP trajectory, Europe has done worse than any other economic bloc. Of the world’s 100 most valuable firms, only 14 are European.

America’s financial and military support for Ukraine vastly exceeds Europe’s, and America resents the EU’s failure to pay for its own security.

America is irritated by Europe’s economic torpor and its failure to defend itself; Europe is outraged by America’s economic populism.

…High-level relationship – where will it all lead to?

International Affairs

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More Europeans will perish from energy crisis than Ukraine war death toll

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More people will perish in Europe this winter because of unaffordable household energy costs than those who have died on the battlefield in the Ukraine war, according to research by the British weekly newspaper The Economist.

Last week, the United Nations said the official civilian death toll from the Ukraine war has risen to nearly 6,900, with civilian injuries topping 10,000.

Whilst the death of military forces in Ukraine has been difficult to verify, the number of soldiers thought to have died in Ukraine is estimated at 25,000-30,000 for each side.

The Economist modeled the effect of the unprecedented hike in gas and electricity bills this winter and concluded that the current cost of energy will likely lead to an extra 147,000 deaths if it is a typical winter.

Should Europe experience a particularly harsh winter, which is something likely when considering the growing effects of climate change, that number could rise to 185,000. That is a rise of 6.0%. It also reports that a harsh winter could cost a total of 335,000 extra lives.

Even in the rare case of a mild winter, that figure would still be high with tens of thousands of extra deaths than in previous years. If it is a mild winter, research by The Economic indicates the death toll would be 79,000.

The Economist’s statistical model included all 27 European Union member countries along with the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Norway.

It is anticipated that Governments across Western Europe would be alarmed and concerned by these shocking figures published by the study.

But it remains to be seen what measures these governments will take to prevent so many extra fatalities in their own countries because of the energy shortage.

The energy crisis itself began when Europe, which was heavily reliant on Russian gas, imposed heavy sanctions on Russian energy exports following Moscow’s war in Ukraine. Before the war, Russia supplied 40-50% of the EU’s natural-gas imports. One of Europe’s strongest economies, Germany for example, had become dependent on Moscow’s gas flows and had no Plan B.

The move clearly backfired on Western economies, with inflation reaching record levels not seen in decades, mainly as a result of the soaring energy prices. That has left pensioners and other poorer as well as middle-class income households facing a choice of putting food on the table this winter or heating their homes.

The study by The Economist says that despite European attempts to stockpile as much gas as possible to fill their storage facilities, many consumers are still being hurt by the rise in wholesale energy costs.

It adds that even as market prices for fuel have slightly declined from their peaks, the real average residential European gas and electricity costs are 144% and 78% above the figures for 2000-19.

As it is being hurt the most, Europe could take serious and concrete efforts to push both Kyiv and Moscow to the negotiating table and hold peace talks that would bring an end to the war.

That would ease a lot of problems facing the continent – and the world – from energy shortages to the global food supply chain disrupted by the war.

However, critics argue, this would backfire on many Western arms manufacturers who are making lucrative profits from their weapons shipments to the warzone.

There are many officials and other influential figures in the West, especially the U.S. congress (despite America not being included in a study by The Economist), who have links to arms manufacturers; which makes the possibility of peace somewhat unlikely.

While the United States has sent weapons to the tune of $40 billion dollars, European countries show no sign of opting for peace with the new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the latest to announce plans of maintaining or increasing military aid to Ukraine next year

The other course of action is for Western governments to ease the cost-of-living crisis by spending more on social welfare and hiking the tax rates for the rich.

This would save lives by allowing families to heat their homes but many Western governments are taking the opposite route, by claiming they need to cut spending in order to strengthen economic growth in the long run. 

As things stand, the new research by the Economist will add to the fears already facing families in Europe ahead of the winter season. The lower the temperatures will be in Western Europe, the more likely it will be that higher-than-usual death tolls are going to hit the continent. 

As The Economist notes, although heatwaves get more press coverage, cold temperatures are usually deadlier than hot ones. Between December and February, 21% more Europeans die per week than from June to August.

The report says that in the past, changes in energy prices had a minor effect on mortality rates in Europe. But this year’s hikes to household bills are remarkably large.

The Ukraine conflict has exposed other massive costs that have accompanied the violence. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that the world economy in 2023 will be US$2.8 trillion smaller than was estimated in December 2021, before the fighting erupted in February.

The British weekly newspaper, which built a statistical model to assess the effects of the sharp rise in energy prices, forecasts deaths based on weather, demography, influenza, energy efficiency, incomes, government spending, and electricity costs, which are closely correlated to prices for a wide variety of heating fuels.

It used data from 2000-19, (excluding 2020 and 2021 because of covid-19) and says the model was highly accurate, accounting for 90% of the variation in death rates.

High fuel prices can exacerbate the effect of low temperatures on deaths, by deterring people from using heat and raising their exposure to cold.

It says that with average weather, the study found a 10% rise in electricity prices is associated with a 0.6% increase in deaths, though this number is greater in cold weeks and smaller in mild ones.

In recent decades’ consumer energy prices have had only a modest impact on winter mortality, because energy prices have moved or swung back and forth in a regular rhythm.

In a typical European country, increasing fuel prices from their lowest level in 2000-19 reduce the temperature from the highest level in that period to the lowest which means colder weather increases the death rate by 12%.

The study cites the case of Italy, where electricity bills have surged to nearly 200% since 2020, extending the situation, which it said was a linear relationship that yields extremely high death estimates. It has been reported that the country will suffer the most extra deaths. The results show that Italy, which has an older population along with soaring higher electricity prices makes it the most vulnerable. 

Other countries such as Estonia and Finland are also expected to suffer from higher fatalities on a per-person basis. People in Britain and France will also be affected. The model for the effects of fatalities from high energy costs did not include Ukraine.

However, damage to the energy infrastructure in Ukraine as a result of the war, will also certainly have a dire humanitarian effect on Ukrainians as well.

Over the past weeks, many reports have emerged citing Europeans as saying they will be forced to switch the heating off because of the high fuel prices, essentially exacerbating the effect of cold temperatures on deaths by raising people’s exposure to low temperatures.

The most vulnerable people in Europe, the elderly and those living alone or on low pay to medium paychecks will pay the highest price: Death.

Tehran Times

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Significance of first EU-Bangladesh political dialogue

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Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen with Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh Oct. 2021

The European Union (EU) and Bangladesh held their first “political dialogue” on Thursday (November 24) in Dhaka to “elevate” their partnership by providing strategic direction and stepping up their cooperation on foreign and security policy.

Md. Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs of Bangladesh, leads the delegation there, while Enrique Mora, deputy secretary general of the European External Action Service (EEAS), represents the EU.

It was the first-ever political discussion in an effort to strengthen their ties at a time when Bangladesh’s influence is rising around the globe. All have an opportunity to discuss all sorts of political issues that they have shared concerns on.

When Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) met in Brussels in October 2021, the two parties decided to begin the political dialogue.

For the first time, a political dialogue between Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) has been held in the capital Dhaka which bears some significance message for Dhaka and Brussels both. Various issues were discussed in the dialogue. However, things like democracy, fundamental rights, rule of law and human rights have gained importance. Bangladesh and EU have pledged to work together on these issues.

Besides, both sides agreed to sign a Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in view of 50 years of relations between Bangladesh and the European Union. It is reported that the agreement will include issues such as connectivity, defense, cyber security framework and addressing the risks of climate change. And the basis of this new legal framework will be human rights.

There is no doubt that the economic and political alliance of 27 developed countries of Europe will bring benefits to Bangladesh in various fields if cooperative relations are developed with the European Union. Such relationships are also important in the current global context. So, we welcome this initiative. It has not yet been determined when the partnership agreement will be signed.

However, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has expressed hope for its implementation in the context of 50 years of relations with the European Union. He said, ‘We have agreed to work on a partnership and cooperation agreement. It has a negotiation process. Taking into account the growing capacity, growth and journey of Bangladesh with the European Union, there is an opportunity to deepen and expand the relationship between the two sides.

One thing that has become clear through this dialogue is that the European Union’s interest in Bangladesh is gradually increasing. It was also understood in the speech of EU representative Enrique Mora at the end of the dialogue. He said, ‘We are reconsidering our relationship with Bangladesh for two reasons. One is the incredible growth and achievement of Bangladesh. That’s why we want to cooperate on various issues. The other is that we have important interests in the Indo-Pacific region. Our objective and strategy are to take a bigger position here. To achieve this goal, we want to increase the partnership with the countries of the region.

A country’s foreign policy is determined based on the country’s national interests. Just as the European Union has interests in strengthening relations with Bangladesh or countries in the region, Bangladesh also has interests in strengthening relations with the EU. Bangladesh’s policy makers have to adopt the strategy of how to make maximum use of this opportunity. There is an opportunity to expand the commercial relations of Bangladesh with the developed countries of Europe. Bangladesh needs the cooperation of those countries in the field of education, science and technology.

On issues like the Rohingya crisis, Bangladesh can expect the support of the EU in various international forums, including the United Nations. Bangladesh can also ask for special benefits for tourism in EU countries. Therefore, the potential of mutual cooperation created through the Bangladesh-EU dialogue, the sooner it becomes a reality, the better.

The EU recognized Bangladesh’s renewed national confidence and growth momentum and expressed interest in working with Bangladesh to address issues of mutual interest, including by emphasizing the Indo-Pacific.

The fields of collaboration between Bangladesh and the EU are growing, and both nations have a variety of international and bilateral interests. While convening the first-ever “political dialogue” between the two sides in this location, Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) indicated a strong desire to take their current relationships to the next level.

State minister Alam and EU representative Mora announced at a joint news conference that they have expressed a willingness to sign a “partnership cooperation agreement” to improve Bangladesh’s relationship with the EU. Alam stated at the briefing that “They (EU) do have such a pact with main economies of ASEAN.”

The state minister reported that during the meeting they also discussed finding a political solution through the repatriation of the displaced people from Bangladesh to Myanmar and examined the Rohingya situation from a security viewpoint.

Additionally, both parties discussed a number of topics of shared interest, such as security cooperation, free and fair Indo-pacific, the Ukraine crisis, food security, trade facilities, and the issue of continuing duty-free access for Bangladeshi goods to the market after Dhaka graduates from the LDC status. Charles Whiteley, the ambassador of the EU to Bangladesh, was also present.

The EU will also have a scheme for duty-free benefits called “GSP Plus. But EU puts some conditions. Bangladesh has made significant economic and social advancements in recent years. The most significant achievement Bangladesh might make in the next years will be leaving the LDC category. But the issue still stands: Will Bangladesh’s commerce sector be equipped to handle the challenges when it leaves the Least Developed Country (LDC) category in 2024? The most difficult part of the journey to seamless graduation appears to be losing privileged market access in many export destinations.

The largest buyer of Bangladeshi goods has historically been the European Union (EU), which accounts for 64% of all clothing exports and 58% of all exports overall. As a least developed country (LDC), Bangladesh has benefited from the finest Generalized Scheme of Preferences of the European Union programs with zero tariffs. One of the nations to make use of the EU’s preferred market access is Bangladesh. Therefore, following LDC graduation, Bangladesh must maintain its tariff preference in all significant markets, but especially in the EU market. The country’s exports would increase if favorable tariffs were used to maintain export competitiveness. As a result, there would be more manufacturing, more export revenue, more employment opportunities for women, and ultimately less poverty.

 Both parties should prioritize the issue. As Bangladesh is on the way of development, EU should support Bangladesh to be a developed country.  Bangladesh has been included in a new EU initiative named “Talent Partnership’.

Bangladeshi migrants are increasingly choosing to go to Europe, particularly to Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal. The EU insists on stopping unauthorized immigration, and both are working to do so.  Although there is still space for improvement, Bangladesh has achieved great strides in the area of labor, and the EU is pleased with it.

The EU has supported Bangladesh strongly on the Rohingya issue and this is discussed in the meeting. Bangladesh looks for financial aid for climate change adaptation as well as technology support for renewable energy. The discussion centers on the need for a free and open Indo-Pacific region and cooperation in counterterrorism initiatives.

After the loss of the duty-free and quota-free market access facility in the EU under the Everything but Arms (EBA) scheme in 2029, Bangladesh shall work to take advantage of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) facility of the European Union (EU).

Bangladesh is going to sit in political dialogue with the European Union (EU) for the first time. The deepening and broadening of relations with the EU and the current complex geopolitical context necessitate a political dialogue.

In addition to discussing bilateral relations, political discussions were held on the three issues discussed in the Bangladesh-EU Joint Commission meeting since 2001 namely development cooperation, trade and good governance and additional issues of human rights. The purpose of this political dialogue is to give a strategic direction so that the stakeholders understand what they have to do.

Security issues was discussed on a large scale in this forum. The security agenda covers terrorism, cyber security, peacekeeping, food and energy security, climate change, international crime and more.

The two sides discussed about creating and expanding the cooperation relationship on the issues between the two sides. The EU has already announced its Indo-Pacific Strategy. Bangladesh’s position on the Indo-Pacific is being worked on. Besides, there are various mechanisms of cooperation between the countries of this region. The region’s importance was greater than ever as the world’s center of power shifted towards Asia. Regional cooperation is very important to the EU and they want to know how Bangladesh is positioned in the region – that is normal. Enrique Mora also said that Bangladesh has become an important state with excellent economic progress.

More important for Bangladesh is Rohingya repatriation. On the other hand, the situation in Myanmar is normal for the EU. EU countries have been supporting the solution of the Rohingya crisis since its inception. But after the military seized power in February last year, restoring democracy in Myanmar became paramount to them and the Rohingya issue took a back seat. The two sides must highlight their respective positions and discuss how to work to resolve the issue. It is not the only issue of Bangladesh. Again, this is not a bilateral issue between Bangladesh and Myanmar. He said, this is an international problem. The international community should be concerned about this. EU IS putting pressure on Myanmar’s military authorities by suspending various types of sanctions and development aid, including arms. The EU reiterated its gratitude for the continued generous role and actions of the Government and people of Bangladesh to temporarily shelter more than 1.1 million Rohingya forcibly displaced from Myanmar for more than five years.

However, to ensure mutual advantage, EU and Bangladesh can cooperate in a variety of fields and approaches. This initial political discussion may open the door to further fortifying the bonds.

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