He said many French companies want to invest in Bangladesh and there is interest from both sides to boost export and import to strengthen the trade relations.

Shahriar highlighted the growing relations between Bangladesh and the European countries mentioning that there had been bilateral visits in Italy, Germany and Mexico in the recent past.

UNESCO’s 75th birthday has further increased the importance of the prime minister’s visit to Paris, said the state minister for foreign affairs.

Asked about the bilateral documents likely to be signed during the visit, the state minister said they do not want to make any comment on that at this moment as they are still working on those issues. “You know negotiation goes on even at the last moment, let’s wait a bit.”

Momen said a few French ministers and lawmakers are also likely to meet the prime minister during her visit.

He said the chiefs of many French companies and a delegation of the MEDEF (the Mouvement des entreprises de France, or the Movement of the Enterprises of France, the largest employer federation in France) want to meet the prime minister.

“We’re expecting that the visit will take the relations to a newer height,” Momen said, adding that a memorandum of understanding and a letter of intent are likely to be signed to that end.

UNESCO-Bangabandhu Prize

The foreign minister said prime minister Hasina is expected to hand over the ‘UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize for the Creative Economy’ to the winner on 11 November. “It’s matter of pride for the entire nation.”

UNESCO is hosting the programme and the prize is fully managed and administered by UNESCO.

‘The UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize for the Creative Economy’ will create a knowledge-sharing mechanism by capturing, celebrating, and communicating best practice in the development of creative entrepreneurship, according to UNESCO documents.

The objectives of the award are in line with strategic objective 8 of UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy for 2014-2021 and with the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

The award will help spread the ideology of Bangabandhu globally with further internationalisation of his work, life and achievements, says the Bangladesh government.

“Bangladesh and Bangabandhu are one and unique which was reflected in the name of the award. This award will play a role in branding Bangladesh and boosting its image globally,” Momen said.

This will be a proud moment for each Bangladeshi, said state minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam.

On 11 November, the prime minister is expected to join a high-level Paris Peace Forum at the invitation of Pascal Lamy who was the Director-General of the World Trade Organization from 1 September 2005 to 1 September 2013, and a former trade minister of France.

On 12 November, the prime minister is likely to attend a high-level meeting marking the 75th birth anniversary of UNESCO where she will highlight the achievements of Bangladesh apart from her plan on achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

The prime minister is also likely to have a bilateral meeting with UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay.

The UNESCO General Conference, which takes place in Paris from 9 to 24 November, will mark the organisation’s 75th anniversary. Several important decisions are expected from UNESCO’s 193 Member States, in particular on cultural heritage, on global education policy, on the ethics surrounding technology and the vital need for greater openness around scientific research.

A special ceremony will be organised and broadcast live from UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris on 12 November to celebrate the organisation’s 75th birthday. Heads of state including prime minister Sheikh Hasina will attend as well as internationally renowned artists.

The General Conference will elect the president of the General Conference as well as the Director-General of the organisation on 9 November.

The Organisation’s Executive Board proposed the renewal of Audrey Azoulay’s mandate at a meeting in October 2021. On the occasion of the General Conference, she will present her vision for the future of UNESCO.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina will leave Bangladesh for the United Kingdom on Sunday to attend the COP26 and other bilateral meetings. She will go to Paris after wrapping up her Glasgow and London visits.

The prime minister on 1 November will address the key segment of the COP26, the UK hosted in Glasgow.