No secret compromise with foreigners: Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen talks to the mediaProthom Alo

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has emphasised there has been no secret compromise with foreigners regarding the upcoming parliamentary elections.

He reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to free and fair elections, aiming to advance the democratic process, aligning with the aspirations of Western countries.

Momen made these statements in response to reporters’ questions at his office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Secretariat on Wednesday afternoon.

While various countries, especially Western ones, had been urging for free and fair elections, there has been a notable shift in their statements.

When asked if this suggests a compromise, Abdul Momen clarified, “We did not feel any pressure. The issue of pressure is brought up by the media. We are committed to free, fair, and conflict-free elections. Nothing happened in secret.”

The foreign minister remarked, “India, America, European Union - they are our friends and development partners with whom we share a longstanding relationship. Our relations with the US is particularly strong, and we welcome their efforts to improve workers’ conditions, but it must be realistic.”

Discussing relations with India and Europe, he added, “India has consistently aided and cooperated with us, maintaining a golden chapter in our relationship. Europe is a significant market for us, and the fact that they buy our products reflects our positive relations.”

When asked about the sudden silence of friendly countries regarding the Bangladesh election and whether it was a diplomatic success, the foreign minister responded, “We believe in our policy. Countries that adhere to principles are generally liked.”

AK Abdul Momen affirmed his commitment to advancing the democratic process through free and fair elections, stating, “This is our goal, and it aligns with the goals of the West. We stand with them. While they (foreigners) observe, the opposition party (BNP) is involved in terrorist actions, which is not appreciated by anyone.”

In response to Western pressure on the election, Abdul Momen stated, “We never feel pressure. The media pressures us. Our stress is our own stress. We feel the pressure ourselves to ensure a credible, free, and fair election. We want to demonstrate this to the world, not due to external urging.” 

Highlighting the US assistance, the foreign minister mentioned, “The assistance is that the United States will not allow those in their country who boycott or resist the elections in Bangladesh. It's their decision to ban anyone. We are happy with it. The US has declared it will apply visa policies to those boycotting or resisting the election. I would be very pleased if they genuinely implement it. The opposition party (BNP) is boycotting the election... The commitments made by the United States would be better if they are carried out.”

When questioned about the credibility of an election conducted between AL nominated and independent candidates in the international arena, the foreign minister responded, “Of course, it will be credible. If the voters participate, it is credible. If the election resembles February 1996 with a 10-15 per cent voter turnout, then it will not be credible. The people of the country rejected it; foreign countries won't accept it either.”