Dhaka, Jun 24 (bdnews24.com) – The government has strongly protested certain 'out-of-context remarks' of the German Foreign Minister at a joint press briefing on Saturday where Guido Westerwelle referred to issues 'that were not even discussed at the official talks'.
A foreign ministry media statement on Sunday said they were 'surprised' at the content of a prepared written text and subsequent remarks of the German Foreign Minister immediately after the official meeting.
According to the statement, the German minister in the press briefing spoke about free civil society, freedom of expression, current human rights situation in Bangladesh, recent killing of activists and the need to bring the perpetrators to justice.
"The ministry would like to emphasise that none of these issues were even raised during the discussion," the statement stressed.
It said the foreign ministry had summoned the charges d' affairs (CDA) of the German Embassy in Dhaka on Sunday morning and conveyed Bangladesh's 'dismay, disappointment and concern over such misrepresentation of facts in the press briefing.'
The German CDA was told that Bangladesh was always ready to engage in discussions on all issues in 'full transparency and objectivity', the statement said.
The German foreign minister had come on a two-visit to Dhaka on Jun 23 marking the 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"Making public statements about issues never raised is not only a misrepresentation of facts, but has the potential to affect bilateral trust and the long-engaging mutually beneficial relationship," the statement said.
Since the German minister read out from a prepared text, the foreign ministry statement said, they consider it 'a serious lapse on the part of German officials, who failed to reflect an accurate account of the discussions in the minister's written statement e.g. on human rights, recent killings'.
Germany is the biggest trading partner of Bangladesh in Euro zone with a trade volume of over $4 billion in the last fiscal, while over the last 40 years, Berlin has provided over Euro 2 billion as development assistance to Dhaka.
The statement said economic cooperation between Bangladesh and Germany, and collaboration in international forums, outcome of Rio+20 and current situation in Europe and recognition of Kosovo dominated their talks.
It also said during discussions, the German Minister inquired about preparations for the next general elections in Bangladesh.
"He also inquired about the local media in Bangladesh," the statement said, adding: "Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni apprised the German Minister of, among others, various measures taken by the Government towards the electoral process, strengthening the Election Commission and ensuring freedom of the media in Bangladesh."
"The German Minister expressed his appreciation for the update."
The foreign ministry, however, also expressed concern that while reporting on the press briefing, 'certain sections of the local media have not even kept to the German Minister's statement, but have resorted to judgmental extrapolation of their own resulting in serious misrepresentation of facts'.
In this context, the statement said, "The Ministry cannot but express its dismay at such distortion of the German Foreign Minister's statements.
"The ministry considers such mal-reporting devoid of objectivity, deplorable and highly unethical."