Wednesday, November 4, 2009

European Union:

EU vows to rally round Dhaka

By Bangladesh Media; The European Parliament has expressed European Union's strong commitment to help Bangladesh combat climate change impacts, saying it wants stability of lives and livelihoods of people here, not Bangladeshis roaming as climate refugees.

"Whether or not the US takes right role in the Copenhagen does not really matter...European Union have a long relation with Bangladesh. Even if Copenhagen damns the scheme, we will be there for you," Nirj Deva, leader of a European Parliament delegation, said yesterday.

"Act now, otherwise we will all be sorry later! Unless steps are taken immediately to adjust to climate change by putting new money in new projects, the huge migratory impact of millions of people seeking safer refuge will make the whole world a less safe place," he said at a press conference at Brac Centre Inn in the city.

The statement came following the October 31-November 1 visit of the eight-member delegation to Bangladesh. During the time, the group met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ministers for environment and disaster management, parliamentarians, NGOs and civil society representatives.

The delegation has not made any financial commitment but said it would submit an official report to the European Parliament that looks after budgetary allocations.

Bangladesh must make specific projects for effective use of the new money, Deva said, adding that politicians must have a consensus on national issues like climate change to work together. The opposition must debate on the crucial issues to frame flawless laws, he noted.

He said they were impressed by the efforts of Bangladesh government. He stressed that the ultra-poor will be the first victims of climate change and so it is essential to do everything to promote their fundamental rights to a decent life.

"Bangladesh is not responsible for the imminent disasters. So, we expect the best possible deal [for Bangladesh] at Copenhagen," the British Conservative parliamentarian told newsmen.

Asked about Bangladesh's demand for $500 million as compensation from the developed world, Deva said a total agreement is needed for this. The amount may be even greater than that, he noted.

"Regional cooperation is very crucial, especially, for the issues of water sharing of the cross border rivers. Unless addressed efficiently, these conflicts will create even greater risks," said Jean Lambert, another member of the delegation.

Asked about extra-judicial killings in Bangladesh, Nirj Deva said the rule of law must be paramount. "A functional democracy is not possible without keeping rule of law above all. Anyone violating laws must be brought to book," he added.

On the opposition's parliament boycott, he said the opposition must join parliament and debate to frame flawless laws. "Catastrophe is obvious if party interest goes above national interests."

Head of the European Commission delegation to Dhaka Stefan Frowen, Swedish Ambassador Fritt F Hagstrom, delegation members Maltese Socialist John Attard Montalto, German Green Franziska Keller and Italian Liberal Niccolo Rinaldi were present at the press conference.

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