Selfie Diplomacy, Trade and Electoral Politics

Selfie Diplomacy, Trade and Electoral Politics

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The extent to which President Macron used public relations to win the hearts of the people in Dhaka was quite surprising. His popularity at home has fallen to 31 percent due to his pension system reforms, where the retirement age has been raised, so perhaps such public relations might have served him better in Paris. But then there will be a danger of facing a mass movement. Not long ago he was stuck in such an unpleasant situation.

There were some French diplomats, and even some journalists, who feared that Islamists would demonstrate in Bangladesh due to France’s strict laws regarding the ban on hijab for women, as well as fines. They were concerned because a few years ago there were demonstrations in Dhaka in response to a cartoon published in ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine and calls for a boycott of French products. And certainly there were perceptions of Islamic terrorist threats. It is difficult to say to what extent their perceptions will change after a smooth journey.

It was clear from the joint statement and statements of the two countries that France’s business interests were at the forefront during President Macron’s visit. The joint statement began by mentioning the depth of friendship between the two countries and highlighted shared democratic values, human rights, preservation of peace and sustainable development. But nowhere in the entire statement was there any comment on any deviation from democracy or any joint commitment to protect human rights.

Many measures for cooperation in combating climate change were mentioned, but there was no acknowledgment that these initiatives could not succeed without the democratic inclusion of the people. Surprisingly, while environmentalists around the world are expressing their grave concern over the threat of extinction of the mangrove forest Sundarbans, France is praising how the mangroves are being protected.

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