US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat on Tuesday said the solution to the current political crisis exists within Bangladesh and hoped that it will find a way forward.
"…the solution and the means for addressing the political differences that exist here are for Bangladeshis to come up with…I've every hope," she told a crowded press conference at the American Club here while responding to a question from UNB.
The US diplomat said the foreign fiends, including the USA, will help if they are requested.
Bernicat said the focus is on moving forward and the US does not back any particular political party but will work with everyone in Bangladesh. "The US doesn't back any political force or party in Bangladesh."
This was her first press meet after her arrival here.
About the ongoing political unrest, she said the US deplores the unconscionable attacks, including bus burnings and train derailments that have killed and wounded so many innocent victims. "Everyone has a role to play in stopping the violence," Bernicat added.
Terming the US-Bangladesh relations deep and broad, she said, "Our focus now is to look ahead and move the relationship forward."
Bernicat also said they have so much good work to build on. “I’m eager to work with the government, the opposition, and civil society on our vital and common interests over the coming years of my tenure.”
Referring to her meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a questioner asked whether democracy in Bangladesh is endangered.
The diplomat responded saying that the Prime Minister and she talked about a wide range of issues, including progress that Bangladesh made in so many areas. “We’ll work together to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions.”
Bernicat also said the US strongly believes that Bangladesh is a democratic country. “I heard a wonderful thing when I was in Washington…somebody characterizes Bangladeshi people for having democracy in their very DNA. This is a democratic society and there’re many means to address issues.”
She hoped that Bangladeshis will use the space created by democratic process to address all the issues in a peaceful manner.
On US’ latest position on January-5 elections, Bernicat said, “The US government’s view on the election is well known, and it’s on the record. What I want to emphasize -- our intent is to move forward with our bilateral relationship.”
On major challenges in Bangladesh-US bilateral relations, the US envoy said, “I truly and honestly believe the biggest challenge in our bilateral relations is how to keep everything moving forward.”
She said Bangladesh-US bilateral agenda is so broad and covers so many different areas and so many different people working on the issues.
Responding to a question business climate here, Bernicat said there is a need to fix the business climate and make sure that fully conducive business environment is created. “It’s just not for American businesses only but for Bangladeshi business as well,” she said adding that Bangladesh also needs to address infrastructure issues.
The US envoy said her country wants to support Bangladesh to become a middle-income country and mentioned that the US wants to see a peaceful and united Bangladesh. “It’s our responsibility to engage with all individuals here in Bangladesh, meeting with all parties, civil society, business community. I want to listen as much as I can.”
On fighting against terrorism, Bernicat said Bangladesh is a key partner in the fight against terrorism and extremism. “We enjoy the support from so many countries like Bangladesh. We encouraged our partners all over the world to join us.”
Referring to Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali’s upcoming US visit, the diplomat said the Foreign Minister is taking time to visit Washington to participate in the countering extremism summit. “It really a key indicator for us that Bangladesh strongly supports countering terrorism.”
Responding to another question, the envoy said when violence takes place, it causes injuries and deaths, creates all kinds of instability. “People can’t travel, can’t work and it disrupts life.”
So, she said, there are so many good reasons to address the issue and help return to a stable environment so that Bangladesh can resume all the good progresses that it is making.
On war crimes trial, Bernicat said they wish to see strong rule of law prevails in Bangladesh. “Our desire is to help Bangladesh strengthen its rule of law, make sure that this process is transparent and they’re fair according to your law.”
About her dream about Bangladesh, she said her dream is to see Bangladeshis are able to realise their dreams truly.
The diplomat mentioned that Bangladesh has achieved a very impressive sustained economic growth of around 6 percent annually over the past 20 years. “We’re proud to be Bangladesh’s largest single export market, a leading source of investment, and its third largest source of remittances.”
On ongoing violence, she said the United States deplores the unconscionable attacks, including bus burnings and train derailments that have killed and wounded so many innocent victims.
“We’ve condemned in the strongest terms the use of violence for political objectives, believing that there is simply no justification for such actions in a democratic Bangladesh,” Bernicat said.
Everyone has a role to play in stopping the violence, resolve their differences through non-violent and responsible political expression, she added.
“Looking ahead, we want to promote a middle-income Bangladesh that’s secure and prosperous, prepared to adapt to climate change and handle natural disasters, with a population that enjoys good health and ample educational opportunities,” said the diplomat.