Bangladesh, France strengthen ties for peace, prosperity and people

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed to work towards “taking the partnership for peace, prosperity and people to a strategic level”.

In a joint statement issued following the historic visit of the President Macron, the two leaders also committed to launch “regular high-level dialogues to deepen the strategic dimension of their partnership.” 

Titled “Bangladesh – France Partnership for Peace, Prosperity and People”, the joint statement covered all aspects of the visit and the decisions the two leaders have taken.

The two leaders gave a “strong impetus” to bilateral relations, and stated their common conviction to develop a trusted and meaningful partnership fostering strategic autonomy - in support of global peace and security, resilience and prosperity, and people-centric connectivity.

Partnership for strategic autonomy, peace and security

Bangladesh and France reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to international law and the UN Charter, notably the principle of a peaceful resolution of conflicts, and an abiding faith in multilateralism. 

In that regard, France and Bangladesh reiterated their commitment to territorial integrity and sovereignty of all nations.

They affirmed that the war in Ukraine constitutes a violation of international law, in particular of the UN Charter and is a serious threat to the rules-based international order.

They expressed their support for all efforts towards the establishment of a just and lasting peace in line with the principles of the UN Charter.

They expressed concern over the global consequences of the war - be it financial, economic and on food and energy security - bearing on all nations, and stated their readiness to engage together in order to address those challenges.

France appreciated Bangladesh’s leading contribution to UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding processes, particularly in Africa.

Bangladesh and France reiterated their support for UN peacekeeping operations and expressed their willingness to regularly consult on mission mandates and their implementation in relevant contexts.

Both countries condemned unconstitutional changes of government and unlawful military takeovers in any country, and called for urgent and unimpeded humanitarian assistance for those displaced due to conflicts, violence and atrocity crimes.

France commended Bangladesh’s generosity in providing shelter and humanitarian support to the forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar over the years.

Both countries reiterated their commitment to maintaining the situation and repatriation of Rohingyas high on the international agenda and the need to create conditions inside Myanmar that allow for their voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return to their ancestral homeland at an early date.

France announced its decision to intervene, along with other partners, in the Gambia v. Myanmar case before the International Court of Justice, in support of international efforts to ensure justice and accountability.

Bangladesh urged France to help mobilize adequate international support for the UN’s Joint Response Plan to the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.

In this context, France announced an additional contribution of one million Euros to the World Food Programme’s activities in Rohingya camps in Bangladesh.

Vision for Indo-Pacific

As two resident powers in the Indian Ocean, Bangladesh and France reiterated their vision of a free, open, inclusive, secure and peaceful Indo-Pacific.

They are determined to deepen cooperation among the members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

Both countries expressed their common endeavour to maintain the region free of illegal traffic and illicit fishing and favoured freedom of trade and navigation.

They recalled the port call at Chittagong by FS Surcouf, a French Frigate deployed in the Indian Ocean, in July 2023.

Bangladesh and France also took note of the progress with implementing the EU-Bangladesh Standard Operating Procedures for the Identification and Return of Persons without an Authorisation to Stay, and decided to enhance cooperation to address the challenges related to irregular migration flows, including people’s smuggling and trafficking in persons.

Bangladesh and France recalled the Letter of Intent on Cooperation and Exchanges in the Field of Defence signed between the two governments during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to France in November 2021 and state their willingness to step up defence cooperation, with a focus on naval, air and terrestrial capacity, including equipment and transfer of technology, in support of Bangladesh’s strategic autonomy.

Both countries supported the strengthening of cooperation on non-traditional security issues, notably cooperation on maritime domain awareness under the CRIMARIO program.

Bangladesh and France regarded sovereignty and strategic autonomy as key principles for a stable, multi-polar world. Both countries therefore welcome enhanced cooperation in strategic sectors.

France thanked Bangladesh for its commitment concerning the acquisition of 10 A350 from Airbus.

The two countries underlined as well the importance of continued cooperation on improved air traffic management in all airports of Bangladesh.

Likewise, as a contribution to the 2041 Vision of a Smart Bangladesh, the two countries welcome the conclusion of a space partnership between Airbus DS and Bangladesh Satellite Company Ltd. (BSCL) that will strengthen Bangladesh’s position as a Space nation after it masters its own sovereign earth-observation satellite.

Bangladesh and France agreed to cooperate in the fields of ICT and digital technology, including artificial intelligence.

In this regard, France invited Bangladesh to consider joining initiatives such as the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence.

They also stressed the importance of combining their efforts towards an enhanced management of cybersecurity issues for a global, open and secure cyberspace governed by international law.

France will work towards identification of technical assistance to Bangladesh in dealing with cybersecurity threats and will work together on the Global Digital Compact under the aegis of the UN.

Partnership for resilience and prosperity

Bangladesh and France believed in the strength of bilateral and international cooperation in the face of the climate emergency, according to the joint statement.

Following up on the Paris Summit for a New Global Finance Pact, whose recommendations Bangladesh endorses, Bangladesh and France jointly called for the swift implementation of the Paris Pact for People and the Planet and for the mobilization of additional financing from all sources for development, climate and biodiversity.

Both countries recognized the need for a more inclusive governance of the global financing architecture, following four key principles: ensuring that no country should have to choose between fighting poverty and conserving the planet; guaranteeing country ownership of transition strategies; delivering a financial stimulus with enhanced and predictable resources to support vulnerable economies; and mobilizing additional private capital to achieve a net-zero and nature-positive world.

“Bangladesh and France believe global efforts to facilitate access to climate finance for developing countries should be accelerated further.”

France will continue to support vulnerable countries in facing extreme events and responding to loss and damage, including through the V20-G7 Global Shield against Climate Risks of which Bangladesh is a priority country, and through the further implementation of climate-resilient debt clauses.

Bangladesh and France agreed to join their efforts to ensure a result-oriented COP28 in Dubai this year.

Both countries observed that climate change and supply chain disruptions are having a disastrous toll on food sovereignty, food security and nutrition worldwide.

France appreciated Bangladesh’s joining the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) initiative led by France.

Bangladesh deeply appreciated France’s development cooperation support in various areas, such as from water treatment to clean energy, from urban development to inclusive health services, featuring climate-oriented projects.

France appreciated Bangladesh’s continued efforts in conserving its mangrove forest in the southwest region and the biodiversity therein.

Joint exploration of marine resources

Bangladesh and France are also determined to step up their joint efforts ahead of the UN conference on Oceans, co-chaired by France and Costa Rica, to be held in Nice in 2025.

Bangladesh invited France to jointly explore ventures in leveraging marine resources in the Bay of Bengal in a sustainable manner.

Both countries reiterated their interest in expanding bilateral trade and exploring potentials for investment in quality and resilient infrastructure development in Bangladesh, including in the railway sector.

Both leaders expressed the hope that the Bangladesh-France Investment Summit to be held on 23 and 25 October 2023 in Paris and Toulouse would inject new impetus to bilateral trade and investment relations.

France lauded the adoption of the National Action Plan on the Labour sector of Bangladesh (2021-2026) and stresses the importance of its implementation and the diversification of Bangladesh’s economy in order to facilitate a smooth and sustainable transition under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) of the European Union.

Partnership for people-centric connectivity

Bangladesh and France regarded culture as a major asset to underpin a strong, renewed people-centric connectivity.

They commended their long-standing cooperation in the field of archaeology, particularly through the unique Mahasthangarh archaeological mission, and agreed to discuss other possible excavation and restoration missions.

Both countries acknowledged interest in further developing their cultural cooperation, and noted the major role played by the Alliances Françaises in Dhaka and Chittagong in that regard.

Both countries recognized the importance of multilingualism and committed to promoting the learning of the French language in Bangladesh and the Bangla language in France.

France agreed to provide diplomatic and French language training in France for young diplomats of Bangladesh. Bangladesh and France agreed to continue their mutual cooperation within Unesco, including for promoting a Culture of Peace.

Bangladesh and France wished to strengthen their scientific, technological and research cooperation and welcome the deployment of a French oceanography expert at the International Centre for Ocean Governance at Dhaka University as a means to bolster research cooperation in this crucial field.

Both countries reiterated their willingness to encourage more student, teacher and academic exchanges, with a focus on priority topics such as architecture, engineering, medicine, oceanography, seismology, climate action, sustainable tourism and development studies.

The French Indian Health Campus in which the Université de La Réunion is involved can also contribute to this objective.

Deep-seated friendship

Bangladesh and France have a deep-seated friendship, based on shared democratic values, promotion of human rights, sustaining peace and sustainable development.

This friendship is rooted in multi-layered historical ties that notably saw André Malraux, France’s former Minister of Culture, launch his memorable call for supporting Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971 and his subsequent meeting with Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Dhaka in April 1973, reads the joint statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron visited Dhaka as a follow-up to Prime Minister Hasina’s visit to France in November 2021.

President Macron arrived in Dhaka on Sunday night to a red-carpet welcome. He left on Monday afternoon.

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