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Germany for talks with major parties soon

By UNB, DHAKA
30th-Apr-2014       
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Visiting German Parliamentary delegation on Tuesday urged the government to resume dialogue with major political forces soon to maintain political satiability in the country for a longer period.
"While (we) appreciate the stability this country has again found today, we've some doubts whether it can be maintained for a full period of five years unless substantial dialogue between the major political forces starts, rather sooner than later," said delegation leader Dagmar Woehrl. Woehrl who has been the Chair of the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development since 2009 said they would hope to soon receive a positive signal from Bangladesh in this respect. She was addressing a press conference at German House in the city while wrapping up their four-day visit to Bangladesh.
Deputy Head of Delegation Stefan Rebmann, Jürgen Klimke, Frank Heinrich, Gabi Weber, Niema Movassat, Uwe Kekeritz and German Ambassador in Dhaka Dr Albrecht Conze were also present. Referring to their talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Woehrl said they had a very open and frank discussion with the Prime Minister in the morning and discussed various topics. "We also raised our concerns about democratic process in Bangladesh," she said adding that Prime Minister also understood their position.
Commenting on the January 5 elections, the delegation chief said, "I must express the Bundestag's concerns that the current Parliament has been elected by a small part of the electorate only, with tens of millions of voters having been deprived of the possibility to cast their ballots." Asked whether Germany wants to see a fresh election in Bangladesh, Woehrl said the people of Bangladesh would decide whether they want a fresh election or not. "This is up to you to decide." She said, resuming dialogue among political parties is important to them as in a democratic process a stronger opposition can help the country move forward.  Responding to another query, Woehrl said the economic ties between Bangladesh and Germany would not be affected. "We support people, and we do this irrespective of the ups and downs of politics, as long as the core values are respected which our foreign policy is based on."
Since Bangladesh's independence, she mentioned, Germany has been Bangladesh's longstanding development partner. "Germany remains committed to continuing its support to Bangladesh on its way to leave behind poverty, and to consolidate its democracy."
Woehrl, Member of the German Bundestag, said Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  "Bangladesh is considered a role model in areas such as poverty reduction, increasing enrolment in primary schools and lowering infant and maternal mortality rate."
On the first day of their trip, they visited a garment factory, a tannery and also the Rana Plaza building site where they commemorated the victims and laid down flowers.
Besides, the delegation had interactions with the victims of the collapse while they visited the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP) in Savar.
They also had meetings with BGMEA leaders, government representatives and international retail buyers.
The delegation observed that with the help of Accord and ILO, but also with the support of Alliance, some progress has been made and all stakeholders deserve praise for this.
But it is only the beginning of a long road, which Germany is ready to go with Bangladesh, said the delegation chief.
In particular, she said, further steps need to be taken to amend once more the existing labour laws.
"We discussed this with our fellow parliamentarians in Dhaka. All objectives must be centered on the need to further improve safety and social standards in order to ensure decent working conditions for those who are producing the garments we are wearing in Germany, and to avoid industrial tragedies in the future," said Woehrl.
This is the first German parliamentary delegation visit to Bangladesh after the Bundestag, the German parliament has been re-elected last September.

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