Bangladesh and France, two nations that are deeply committed to shared democratic values, the promotion of human rights, the pursuit of peace, and sustainable development, have celebrated a significant milestone in their bilateral relations. This enduring friendship is rooted in a rich history that dates back several decades, marked by memorable moments such as André Malraux, France’s former Minister of Culture, offering support to Bangladesh during its Liberation War in 1971. His historic meeting with the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in Dhaka in April 1973, symbolized the foundation of this enduring bond.
The recent visit of President Emmanuel Macron of France to Bangladesh from September 10th to 11th, 2023, marked another historic chapter in their relationship. This visit, which reciprocated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s trip to France in November 2021, aimed to strengthen bilateral ties and foster strategic autonomy in support of global peace, security, resilience, prosperity, and people-centric connectivity.
A Partnership for Resilience and Prosperity
Bangladesh and France are united in their commitment to address the climate emergency. They jointly endorse the recommendations of the Paris Summit for a New Global Finance Pact and advocate for the swift implementation of the Paris Pact for People and the Planet. They emphasize the need for additional financing from all sources to support development, climate, and biodiversity. Both nations advocate for inclusive global governance of the financing architecture, based on four key principles: poverty alleviation without harming the environment, country ownership of transition strategies, financial stimulus with predictable resources for vulnerable economies, and the mobilization of private capital for a net-zero and nature-positive world.
Recognizing the urgency of climate finance, Bangladesh and France call for accelerated global efforts to facilitate access to such funding for developing countries. France pledges to support vulnerable countries in addressing extreme events and responding to loss and damage, including through the V20-G7 Global Shield against Climate Risks, with Bangladesh as a priority country. They also support the establishment of a fund to assist developing nations vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Both nations are committed to achieving a climate-resilient world. They emphasize the importance of renewable and clean energy and the need to transition away from fossil fuels. France is dedicated to carbon neutrality by 2050, while Bangladesh seeks affordable finances and technologies for its energy transition.
Climate change and supply chain disruptions have profound effects on global food sovereignty, food security, and nutrition. Bangladesh and France pledge to enhance cooperation in sustainable and resilient food and agriculture systems to support food security.
Strengthening Bilateral Cooperation
France has been a significant partner in Bangladesh’s development efforts, supporting initiatives from water treatment to clean energy and urban development to inclusive health services, with a particular focus on climate-oriented projects. A $200 million financing agreement signed with the French Agency for Development will aid urban development in more than 86 municipalities across Bangladesh.
Both nations emphasize the importance of preserving and expanding Bangladesh’s rich mangroves, vital for biodiversity and carbon storage. France appreciates Bangladesh’s efforts in conserving these vital ecosystems.
Bangladesh and France are determined to enhance their collaboration ahead of the UN conference on Oceans, co-chaired by France and Costa Rica in 2025. They plan to explore ventures for sustainable marine resource utilization in the Bay of Bengal.
In their efforts to expand bilateral trade and investment, both nations express hope that the Bangladesh-France Investment Summit in October 2023 will inject fresh momentum into their economic relations.
A Commitment to Peace and Security
Bangladesh and France reaffirmed their commitment to international law, the UN Charter, and peaceful conflict resolution. They express their support for efforts to establish a just and lasting peace in Ukraine and the global consequences of the conflict.
France applauds Bangladesh’s contributions to UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding, especially in Africa. Both nations pledge support for UN peacekeeping operations and regular consultations on mission mandates.
Both nations condemn unconstitutional changes of government and unlawful military takeovers. They also call for unimpeded humanitarian assistance for those displaced by conflicts, violence, and atrocity crimes.
France appreciates Bangladesh’s hospitality in providing shelter and support to Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. They reiterate their commitment to maintaining the situation and repatriation of Rohingyas high on the international agenda. France announced its participation in the Gambia v. Myanmar case before the International Court of Justice, supporting international efforts for justice and accountability. Bangladesh urges France to mobilize international support for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.
A Vision for Indo-Pacific and Beyond
As two resident powers in the Indian Ocean, Bangladesh and France envision a free, open, inclusive, secure, and peaceful Indo-Pacific. They seek to deepen cooperation among Indian Ocean Rim Association members, emphasizing freedom of trade and navigation and addressing illegal activities.
Both nations are determined to tackle challenges related to irregular migration flows, including smuggling and human trafficking.
Bangladesh and France aim to strengthen defense cooperation, focusing on naval, air, and terrestrial capacity. They support cooperation on non-traditional security issues, including maritime domain awareness.
Investing in Connectivity and People-Centric Collaboration
Both nations recognize culture’s role in fostering people-centric connectivity. They appreciate their cultural cooperation and aim to further develop it. Both countries commit to promoting language learning, with France offering language training to young Bangladeshi diplomats. They also commit to cooperation with UNESCO.
Scientific, technological, and research cooperation is a priority. France deploys an oceanography expert to enhance research cooperation, and both nations aim to facilitate student and academic exchanges.
In conclusion, Bangladesh and France are committed to deepening their partnership, launching regular high-level dialogues, and elevating their relationship to a strategic level. The visit of President Macron solidifies their bond and sets the stage for a future of collaboration, shared growth, and inclusive development.
AKM Sayedad Hossain
Associate Editor, Diplomats Publication