Monday, April 22, 2024

Dialogue process ‘very slow’: Mozena

The initiative of a dialogue between the government and opposition to resolve the political impasse is progressing very slowly, as there is a lack of confidence in each other, United States Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena said on Wednesday. The dialogue is difficult under the current circumstance and that it will not be easy and fast, he acknowledged. “Well, I think the preliminary steps are happening…But very slowly and dialogue is difficult in a circumstance like this. People are not sure about the other side.
So, this will not be easy, this will not be fast,” the US Ambassador told a press conference at the American Centre replying to a volley of questions regarding the dialogue between the government and the opposition.
“I can only hope that it will inch its way forward and then gain momentum because I think it will yield results. I mean free, fair and credible election that everybody wants. And, I think dialogue is the best way to achieve that result,” he said.
“People are talking to each other. People are trying to reach out each other. So, these are little steps and steps are in the right direction. It will not be easy but I am hopeful that the parties will find a way sooner rather than later so that this country can have free, fair and credible elections,” he added.
Asked if Washington would play any role in the dialogue process, Mozena said, “They don’t need me, they don’t America, they don’t need anybody else from outside to get involved in this process. Only Bangladeshis can do this and they will do this in my view. And, when they find a way forward whatever it is that leads to free, fair and credible elections then outsiders like America, like United Nations or like so many friends will help. We are already helping but in terms of finding the way forward, only Bangladeshis can do it.”
Commenting on the initiative taken by the foreign diplomats at the end of tenure of BNP-led government, he said, “I would point this thing out that this is not 2006 and this is not 2007. This is 2013, very different circumstance. Bangladesh has experience in 2006 and 2007. One learns from experience. This is the most sophisticated country.”
Asked if Washington would raise the issues relating to upcoming elections and ongoing violence during the second Bangladesh-US Partnership Dialogue to be held in Dhaka on May 26-27, the Ambassador said, “The process for upcoming elections is very much part of the partnership dialogue. We are friends and friends talk to each other.”
“One of the points that will come from our side is the opportunity costs of continued political stalemate. This is the time when investment should come to Bangladesh. It is flooding out of China. I know for fact that it is not coming here right now. Political uncertainty makes it difficult for investment dollars to come here. They will be discussing that,” he said.
“I am sure they (US side) will underscore the message that political violence is not, not, not acceptable. We believe that all players in the political process have the right to express their views and opinions but to do so in a peaceful manner. We believe it is the role of the government to facilitate and provide the space needed so the opposition and other entities can express their views peacefully. The responsibility of the opposition party is to do so in a peaceful way,” he added.
Asked if the inputs of the Partnership Dialogue would have any effect on US decision about the continuation of GSP facilities for Bangladeshi products, Mozena said, “GSP review process is probably too far a long way at this point. It is being evaluated right now.”
Describing the labour law reform as a big step in the right direction, Mozena said the bill amending the law was expected to be passed in parliament in the budget session, but the decision on GSP would be made by then.
Replying to a question, the envoy said that there was no relationship between GSP and Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA).
“TICFA is TICFA and GSP is GSP,” he said.
TICFA establishes a forum of Bangladesh and US that would meet once a year to identify the obstacles and overcoming those, Mozena said, adding that US had such agreement 45-50 countries.
About the signing of TICFA, he said, “Maybe one here someday…I don’t know. What I say to my friends in Bangladesh is if this is good for Bangladesh to have this forum, then let’s sign it. If it is not a good thing, Bangladesh should never sign it. We are ready to sign. But of course it takes two to sign.”
There will be discussions on the tragedies of Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions as well as the ways and means to ensure that these tragedies are not repeated, he said.“There would be discussion on workers’ right to freely associate and organize and their right to work in safe condition. There will be discussion on how to, out of these tragedies, find a way to make Bangladesh a preferred brand,” he said.
Asked about the letter written to him by Jute and Textiles Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui, “First of all, I make no comment on his comment because he should make comment on his comment. He knows what he was saying, I would not know. You can contact him.”

-With The Independent input

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