Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2001-01-16-Speech-2-313"

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". Mr President, Bangladesh is rich and poor at the same time. Rich in human resources, poor in capital means. It is one of the world’s poorest and most densely populated countries. It is regularly afflicted by natural disasters. This is why it is important for Europe to give as much aid as possible. Premier Hasina assured us that the Chittagong Hills peace agreement is being implemented to the letter. From our visit to the site, we gleaned a different impression, if the truth be told. Neither the Land Commission nor the Regional Council were functioning. The military presence has not let up. European aid can only be given to this region if substantial progress is made when the peace agreement is being implemented, which, unfortunately is not yet the case. The development of Bangladesh hinges on the good governance of the country’s own leaders. Europe cannot offer anything but aid. My conclusion is that the country should not be as poor as it is now. Absolutely not. If only the country’s resources were better employed. The agreement with the European Union bears witness to good relations and provides an excellent backdrop to stepping up development cooperation and trade. In addition, the agreement lays the foundation to the political dialogue which provides for human rights, good governance and democratic freedoms. On my recent visit to Bangladesh with Mr Miranda, I noticed that they attach far greater importance to relations with Europe than we often realise. The government as well as the opposition, but also academics, journalists, industry and non-governmental organisations look up to Europe and expect a great deal from us, more than America, for instance. We should not disappoint them in this expectation, and make every effort to promote positive developments. The following recent trends can be cited as favourable: economic growth by more than 4%, a fall in the population increase, falling illiteracy and greater participation of women in the political and social arenas. This is in contrast to the fact that the country labours under the burden of an increase in domestic violence against women, but also in violence on the streets and in political confrontations. Abused women accounted for more than 30% of the patients in a hospital we visited. Child labour is still widespread, despite the recent progress made and initiatives presented by the government and industry. Mass-scale political strikes regularly bring life in Bangladesh to a standstill. Foreign investment is only possible if the government ensures more peaceful social conditions. There is also instability politically speaking. There is a deep historic distrust between the two major parties, despite the fact that you can hardly tell them apart in terms of content. The opposition must resume its constructive role. Without peaceful cooperation between the key parties, the country cannot come out of its political and economic impasse. It is therefore essential for the forthcoming elections to be above board. The European Union should not fail to send observers, including members of this Parliament. In addition to flooding and erosion of the river banks, the population is also suffering on a large scale from the poisoning of drinking water. In principle, the European Union can provide valuable aid to help alleviate all of these problems. Reinforcement of the government apparatus should take centre stage in aid provision. The state is functioning ineffectively in very many ways, especially in the finance and education sectors. It is unfortunate that with regard to aid, the European Commission does not have the sound reputation among donors which it should really have. Often, funds only become available after long delays, it at all. The delegation is not sufficiently involved in defining the programme. The shortage of personnel leads to a lack of supervision in projects. In short, this is a good, practical example which illustrates the need for reforms in the management sector. In order to provide efficient aid, it is vital for the European Commission, the EU Member States and other donors to dovetail their policies. The many non-governmental organisations which are present fulfil a key role in the implementation of programmes. The resources are pooled sector-by-sector, which benefits effectiveness and harms European visibility. But the advantage outweighs the disadvantage."@en1

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