Bangladesh and Austria yesterday agreed to work together to deepen and widen the areas of cooperation, particularly in trade, vocational training and renewable energy.
They also expressed hope that a proposed air services agreement would be finalised soon to establish the direct air link between Dhaka and Vienna.
The optimism came forth when Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen held discussions with Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria Karin Kneissl, who arrived in Dhaka early in the morning on a two-day working visit.
After the meeting, the two ministers told reporters that they discussed current state and prospects of bilateral relations, noting the positive development of cooperation in various areas. Kneissl lauded Bangladesh's “impressive development and amazing achievements" in the last one decade and assured to remain a stronger partner in its development journey.
“We are delighted to work together,” said the Austrian minister, who was accompanied by a high-powered delegation comprising experts, senior government officials, top businesspeople and a media team.
One of the priorities of her visit was to join the observance of International Mother Language Day. She and her delegation members also called on President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban in the evening.
Speaking at a joint press briefing at state guesthouse Meghna, Momen said establishing direct air connectivity would help create more avenues of cooperation with enhanced trade relations.
He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has outlined certain development roadmaps aiming to graduate to a developing country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041. So, Bangladesh needs lots of investment, technology transfer and better trade relations with Austria and other countries.
Momen said the Austrian foreign minister and her team came here to help Bangladesh as a partner and assured to provide cooperation, support and expertise in areas of education, power generation, renewable energy and skill development. On the Rohingya refugee issue, the foreign ministry said it was discussed with due importance and Austria promised to do its part through the European Union.
Speaking at the briefing, Kneissl highly appreciated the tremendous efforts of the Bangladesh government and its people in providing humanitarian support to Rohingya Muslim minorities. She said her country was working with the EU in its efforts to resolve the Rohingya crisis and mentioned that the EU remains serious about the cause.
The Austrian minister said they were in a similar situation and they had also welcomed refugees. “We know the burden it has on the society,” she said.
Later, Momen addressed a business luncheon he hosted in honour of Kneissl and her delegation.
Momen urged the Austrian businessmen and investors to invest in Bangladesh taking advantage of the country's demographic dividend and attractive packages that were on offer for foreign direct investment.
The business delegation comprised representatives of 13 leading companies from Austria.