Report by Humayun kabir from Lisbon, Portugal. Bangladesh and Portugal held the 2nd Political Consultation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 17, 2022. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam led the Consultations from the Bangladesh side while the Portuguese side was led by Dr. Francisco André, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
The State Minister recalled his last visit to Portugal earlier this year. He observed that while Bangladesh and Portugal enjoy a relationship that goes back more than 500 years, official interactions between the two governments in recent times had remained low. He thanked the Portuguese State Secretary for following up on his commitment to visit Bangladesh to take the bilateral relations forward.
The Portuguese State Secretary appreciated the Bangladesh Foreign Minister’s participation at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June 2022. He also acknowledged the valued contributions of the Bangladesh community in Portugal and assured of appropriate measures by his government in the next couple of years to address the consular-related issues faced by the Bangladeshi expatriates.
The two sides also agreed to cooperate on a permanent structure of a Shaheed Minar at a suitable location in Lisbon with a view to making the Bangladeshi community there feel more culturally integrated.
Both sides stressed the need for enhanced interactions among business people to foster economic ties. The two countries reaffirmed their interest in concluding an Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation soon.
The Portuguese State Secretary expressed interest in sharing know-how and investments in renewable energy, especially in offshore wind power generation. State Minister Alam welcomed the proposal and invited expertise for connecting off-grid solar power to the national grid in Bangladesh.
The two sides also agreed to take forward the ongoing initiative at establishing direct shipping links between the interesting ports.
The Bangladesh State Minister urged Portugal to support Bangladesh’s bid for a GSP+ facility beyond 2029 under the EU’s new GSP Regulation. The Portuguese State Secretary termed Bangladesh as the best success story for the EU’s Everything-but-Arms (EBA) scheme for LDCs and assured of appropriate consideration for Bangladesh’s continued trade preferences in the EU market.
The two Ministers exchanged views on climate change issues, including the COP-27 agenda on loss and damage. The Bangladesh State Minister thanked Portugal for its moral support for climate justice for vulnerable countries. The Portuguese State Minister asked Bangladesh to maintain its championing role in climate action and ocean protection.
The two sides agreed to conclude the draft Agreement on Cultural Cooperation in the near future. They expressed satisfaction at the recently completed MOU on teaching the Portuguese language at the Institute of Modern Languages at Dhaka University.
The two Ministers also exchanged views on the situation in Myanmar and Afghanistan. The Portuguese State Secretary stressed that the Rohingya crisis cannot remain a challenge solely for Bangladesh and that all concerned countries in the region should work together to find a durable solution.
The two sides reiterated their shared emphasis on bringing the armed conflict in Ukraine to an immediate end. They agreed to uphold multilateralism and discussed possible support for each other’s candidatures in different international bodies.
State Secretary André is now on a three-day visit to Bangladesh. He expressed interest in planning ahead for observing the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2024.