Rights issues not raised during talks with German FM, claims government

The foreign ministry yesterday summoned the chargé d’affaires of the German embassy in Dhaka and conveyed its dismay, disappointment and concern over some remarks of German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made at a joint press briefing.

In a press release yesterday, it said the ministry “wishes to record its surprise at the content of a prepared written text and subsequent remarks by the German Foreign Minister immediately following the official meeting”.

Rights situation worries Germany

The visiting German minister referred to issues that include a free civil society, freedom of expression, human rights situation in Bangladesh, and concern over the recent killing of activists and bringing their perpetrators to justice.

None of these issues were even raised at the discussion, it read.

Guido Westerwelle, who arrived in the city on Saturday, in reply to a question at the joint press conference with Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, said, “Of course, we have discussed the human rights situation of Bangladesh. Like all we are concerned about the recent killing of activists and we expect proper investigation into the incidents and the perpetrators will be brought to justice.”

The foreign ministry said since the German minister had read out from a prepared text, the ministry considered this as a serious failure on the part of the officials who did not reflect an accurate account of the discussions in the statement on human rights and recent killings.

The ministry noted that Bangladesh was always ready to engage in discussions on all issues in full transparency and objectivity.

Ralf Matthias Reusch, chargé d’affaires of the German embassy in Dhaka, was called immediately after Holger Michael, whose tenure as German ambassador here has ended, left yesterday morning.

The German minister also departed early yesterday, ending his 2-day visit to the city.

“Making public statements about issues never raised is not only a misrepresentation of facts, but has the potential to affect bilateral trust and the long-engaging mutually beneficial relationship,” the press release said.

However, the foreign ministry said the excellent relations between the two countries spanned four decades.

Germy is Bangladesh’s largest partner in trade and development cooperation in Europe and it was reiterated by the German foreign minister in his briefing, it read.

The German minister visited Bangladesh with a 57-member delegation, including some key businessmen from the European country, for exploring investment opportunities here.

The foreign ministry also noted that in reporting on the press briefing, a section of the local media did not even keep to the German minister’s statement, but resorted to judgmental extrapolation of their own, resulting in serious misrepresentation of facts.

In this context, the ministry said it could not but express its dismay at such distortion of the German foreign minister’s statements. The ministry considered such “mal-reporting” devoid of objectivity, deplorable and highly unethical.