Switzerland a serious global player, Bangladesh’s reliable partner, she says
Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard has said they want to engage on the UN Security Council and are looking forward to working with Bangladesh to pursue their collective actions in favor of peace, international law, sustainable development and human rights in the multilateral fora.
"But let me be clear here. This will not be an easy task: taken into account the numerous global challenges which we are facing, cooperation is essential," she said, adding that Switzerland is a serious global player and a reliable partner of Bangladesh.
The Ambassador was speaking at the DCAB Talk at Jatiya Press Club hosted by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) on August 10.
The briefing began by observing one-minute silence to pay homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members who were brutally assassinated on August 15 in 1975. DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus and its General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke at the event.
The Swiss envoy said their programme complements the support for more trade and direct foreign investments. Altogether, she said, for the next four years, Switzerland will invest about US$ 130 million.
"Our overall goal is to support a sustainable LDC graduation, promote a more prosperous, just and resilient society, and contribute to peaceful coexistence," she said, adding that they also work on critical issues such as climate change, human rights, gender equality and women's economic and political empowerment - just to name a few.
Ambassador Chuard said what her country is engaged in and contributes here in Bangladesh is actually a reflection of what Switzerland stands for and promotes globally.
"This is part of our broader quest to make a better, more secure, prosperous and sustainable future for all," she said.
Ambassador Chuard said with the graduation from the Least Developed Countries category approaching, Bangladesh is at a crossroads.
"Equipped with Swiss expertise and forte in technology, innovation and R and D, we stand ready to expand our economic partnership with you to make this transformative journey smooth and sustainable, leaving no one behind," she said.
The Swiss envoy said solidarity is an underlying aspect in the bilateral relations and her country has proven to be a committed, effective and innovative development partner, investing over US$ 1 billion in international cooperation in this country in the last five decades.
In June this year, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly elected Switzerland as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2023-2024.
Dialogue, confidence building and consensus-seeking are in their DNA, said the Ambassador, focusing on their shared commitments that they can really make a difference.
The Swiss envoy said they will continue committed partnership with Bangladesh towards the next stage of its socio-economic development.
To this end, she said, good governance, respect and promotion of human rights, empowerment and inclusion of women and minority groups, as well as climate change adaptation and mitigation, will remain at the heart of our action and development cooperation.
The Ambassador said they will also work with drivers of change such as women and youth and focus on strengthening civil society voices and participation to provide checks and balances, which are key for sustainability and inclusivity.
"We are keen to reinforce our engagement with Bangladesh on SDGs since they remain our compass for the years to come. In that regard, one SDG that is particularly dear to our hearts is SDG 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions - since it is so closely interlinked with other SDGs," she said.
Indeed, the envoy said, without peace, justice and inclusion, achieving goals such as ending poverty, ensuring education, promoting economic growth seem difficult or even impossible.
"Multilateralism matters, now more than ever, especially for countries like ours," she said.
Bangladesh Money in Swiss Banks
Ambassador Chuard said any estimate on deposits of Bangladeshi money in the Swiss banks is "purely speculative" and no conclusion can be drawn on the basis of media and other reports.
"Switzerland is not a safe haven for corrupt money," she said adding "When it comes to the Bangladeshi money deposited in the Swiss banks - the deposits meant by individuals ...represent only one aspect of various sources of public and private funds."
The Swiss envoy said ... no conclusion can be drawn on the volumes of private deposits from Bangladeshi customers in Switzerland on the basis of these reports of the Swiss National Bank.
Bangladeshi media outlets reported that funds parked by Bangladeshi nationals and entities in all the Swiss banks swelled by 54 per cent to around CHF (Swiss Franc) 871 million (Tk 83.18 billion) in the last calendar year. The amount was around CHF 563 million in 2020.
Responding to a question on information exchange on the issue, she said Switzerland is really committed to implementing international standards. In accordance with these international standards they can have some specific regulations and agreements also with the country to exchange this type of information, she said.
"So that something should be developed," said the ambassador, adding that they have been providing to the government all the information regarding how to reach an agreement on these matters but no request has been submitted regarding any particular funding.
On the statistics, the Swiss envoy said, money of the individuals that is placed, for instance, in Swiss banks - not just in Switzerland but in the Swiss banks worldwide - has recently been decreasing.
She said they certainly do not encourage capital flight and the Swiss bank system is the most renowned and internationally connected system.
At all the financial centers, the envoy said, there is always a risk of abuse but Switzerland really takes steps to mitigate its risk as fast as possible.
Dhaka Approached Swiss Banks
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said Bangladesh sought information on the deposits of Bangladeshi money in the Swiss banks but the Swiss side did not respond to the query.
Momen said this after his conversation on the issue with Bangladesh Bank governor Abdur Rouf Talukder and Finance Secretary Fatima Yasmin on Thursday.
The foreign minister said he advised the governor and the finance ministry to come up with the statements as confusion arose following some media reports quoting Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard.
"Let's know first from the statements from the governor and the finance ministry," he said while talking to a small group of reporters at his office.
Momen said it is not true that Bangladesh did not seek information from Switzerland.
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