9 May 2017, Tue, 10:00

EU hopeful all parties will take part in election

European Union envoy in Dhaka Pierre Mayaudon on Monday expressed optimism that all political parties would take part in the next general election scheduled for early 2019.
He said the EU has a universal agenda to promote free, fair and inclusive elections, and “it is their wish to see Bangladesh responds to that pillar.”
The EU ambassador was talking to a select group of journalists at the office of the EU Delegation in the capital ahead of the Europe Day today.
Ambassador Mayaudon said some lessons were learnt from the last general election held in January 5, 2014.
“There have been some lessons learnt already that will lead to proper approach.”
He hoped the next parliamentary election would be an occasion of all Bangladeshi citizens.
Responding to a question on Hefajat-e Islam and a recently formed electoral alliance led by Jatiya Party, the diplomat said he found the developments positive.
The government's move to engage with the Hefajat was positive in the sense of having an “inclusive society”, he added.
“If initiatives are taken to engage with some components of the society who otherwise would have been left aside…I think it's positive.”
Mayaudon said it is important to have an inclusive society. “This inclusive society rallies long objectives which are consensual objectives of bringing forward socio-economic agenda, and development agenda of Bangladesh.”
He, however, said the EU would see how effective the engagement would be.
Some 350 representatives of Qawmi madrasas, led by Hefajat chief Shah Ahmed Shafi, met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Gono Bhaban last month. The PM at that meeting announced that the government would recognise Dawra degree of Qawmi madrasa as equivalent to Master's degree.
About the EU-Bangladesh ties, Mayaudon said the EU was engaged with Bangladesh under the 2001 cooperation agreement. “Democracy and human rights are the cornerstones of that agreement.”
He said a positive result of the ties was the empowerment of women in Bangladesh. Millions of women were lifted out of poverty due to the rise of the RMG industry following the duty and quota-free access to the EU market, he added.
About the French presidential elections results, which brought relief to 28 EU member countries after concerns were raised over the UK's decision to leave the European Union, Mayaudon said the EU is an “extremely resilient institution.”
“This kind of debate started even before the creation of the EU. We are used to it, we accept it and even we welcome it as a way to keep us under constant encouragement to revisit the way EU is defining and conducting its policies,” he added.
Appreciating the Chinese move to offer assistance to Bangladesh in solving the Rohingya refugee crisis, the diplomat said China as an important partner of the EU expressed its willingness to find out a solution to the long-standing problem.
Konstantinos Vardakis, head of political, trade, press and information section at the EU Delegation, was present.