Address by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal at a (NCWA)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me a great pleasure to join you in celebrating the 62nd Anniversary of the Nepal Council of World Affairs, one of the oldest non-governmental institutions engaged in the field of foreign affairs, this afternoon. I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the President and office bearers of the Council on this happy occasion.
The fact that the Council has been in existence for the last six decades is in itself a remarkable achievement. It is more so when we notice that the Council has been active in organizing talk programs, seminars and conferences on topical foreign affairs-related issues from time to time. The suggestions and expert opinions expressed in such programmes have been helpful in crystallizing diplomatic initiatives by the relevant government agencies in our bilateral and multilateral interactions and relationships. I hope the Council will continue to remain active as a think tank in the days ahead.
A State’s foreign policy is often said to be an extension of its domestic policy. In a world which is rapidly globalizing, interdependence growing, and where a number of new transnational issues of global concern are emerging day by day, sharp divisions in the domain of domestic and foreign policies, as would have been possible in the past era, are no more practical and realistic today. The world has changed much, and so should we to keep pace with this global change and to benefit from it.
Having said this, let me briefly touch upon the basic tenets of the foreign policy of Nepal.
The foreign policy of Nepal is based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, the Panchsheel, non-alignment, international law, the values of international peace, as well as the imperatives of international cooperation and friendship with all. The main objective of our foreign policy is to preserve the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Nepal as a sovereign independent nation. At the same time we also have to uplift our economic status through economic growth and development. We have been gearing our diplomacy and diplomatic initiatives to that end.
Having come out of a long period of isolationism in the early 1950s, we as a nation embarked on a path of friendship and cooperation with the external world. At the beginning it was an uncharted path for us, and we encountered a number of challenges as well. But as we moved on, we became more and more confident.
At the bilateral level, our relations with our immediate neighbours - India and China - carry great significance for us. Our relations with India are based on mutual respect, goodwill, understanding and cooperation. We have very extensive, close and cordial relations with India at the people’s level as well. Likewise, our relations with our Northern neighbor - China - has been equally cooperative, close and cordial. Friendship with all and enmity towards none is the fundamental premise of our bilateral relationship. We have been consistent in nurturing our relations with our immediate neighbours and all other friendly countries on that basis.
As a least developed country, Nepal has been a recipient of development assistance bilaterally as well as through multi-lateral aid agencies. We are grateful to our development partners who have been extending valuable support and assistance to us in our development efforts. As a landlocked and least developed country, we have to encounter several challenges of development, both internally and externally. Our constraints are many, but with renewed national resolve, commitment and dedication, and with the support and cooperation of our neighbours and friends in the international arena, we hope to navigate them successfully.
At the regional level, Nepal has been one of the propounders of the idea of South Asian regional cooperation which has taken an institutional shape as the South Asian Association for Regional cooperation (SAARC) since 1985. Although a late starter as a regional grouping, SAARC has been making a steady progress in building the basis of more meaningful regional cooperation in the years ahead. Nepal is proud to host the Secretariat of SAARC in Kathmandu and committed to promote regional ideals.
Multilateralism remains one of the most important components of Nepal’s foreign policy. In an increasingly globalizing world, it cannot be otherwise. It is in this context that we continue to give importance to the ideals of the Non-aligned Movement. I recently attended the XV Summit meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. With 118 member countries and more than two dozens of observer countries and international agencies attending, the XV NAM Summit was a huge event which took stock of all the important developments in international relations, regional issues, UN reforms, the ramifications and impacts of the current economic and financial crisis on the developing countries, the special needs and vulnerabilities of the developing and least developed countries as well as global concerns such as international terrorism, climate change, disarmament, drug trafficking, HIV/AIDS and other diseases etc. It provided us with an important opportunity to apprise the members countries of NAM about our ongoing peace process and other political developments taking place in Nepal. I also have had the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings and exchange of views with a number of the Heads of State and Government attending the Summit. I am glad that they have all been very positive about Nepal and supportive of our endeavors to peace and constitution making.
Soon after becoming a member of the United Nations in 1955, Nepal was invited to take part in one of the most important activities of the United Nations - the peacekeeping mission. It was almost exactly 51 years ago that Nepal first took part in the UN peacekeeping mission as the United Nations Observers Group in Lebanon under the aegis of the United Nations. Nepal’s participation in the UN Peacekeeping missions has continued since that time. Today, more than 3,000 of our peacekeepers - the military, the police and the civilian personnel - have been serving the cause of world peace in about a dozen of the UN peace missions around the world. We are currently the fifth largest troop contributing county. We are proud of being able to make a modest contribution to the task of peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace building under the leadership of the United Nations in countries where conflicts have badly damaged social harmony, peace and development.
Diplomacy is the instrument to attain our foreign policy objectives. In addition to the traditional diplomatic activities undertaken by our missions abroad, we are currently focusing on economic diplomacy which includes trade, investment, tourism and foreign employment promotion. We have been gradually expanding our reach through the establishment of new embassies in countries and continents which have greater prospects for us to benefit from economic diplomacy. It is in his context that the Government of Nepal has recently decided to open embassies in Brazil, Canada, Kuwait and South Africa.
Consular protection to the Nepalese workers in foreign countries has been one of the most important activities of our missions abroad. We have been making our missions more resourceful so as to make them more able to deal with the problems associated with Nepalese workers abroad.
At home, we have been working hard to take the peace process to a positive conclusion, and to draft a new democratic constitution within the stipulated time frame. It has all along been our effort to build national consensus of all the major political parties on major national issues. The long-term understanding among the major political parties and trust will help in achieving political stability and economic development. This will not only help in establishing lasting peace, drafting new constitution, institutionalizing democracy and strengthen Nepal’s independence and sovereignty but also contribute in achieving our long cherished goals of economic development and social harmony. As we all know that we do not have any alternative other than building understanding among the political parties to fulfill those common responsibilities. I have been trying my best to this end and I hope to have the full cooperation and support of all the major political parties in this regard.
There has been a gradual improvement in the law and order situation in the country since the new Government came to power. With the willing support and cooperation of all segments of the people in our society, the Government is committed to bring further improvement in the overall security situation in the country. I would like to reiterate here again that my government has given top most priority in improving the law and order environment of the country and will make every effort towards this.
I am in deep pain in hearing the news of people dying due to the outbreak of cholera and diarrhea diseases in some of the remote hilly districts of Mid-Western and Far Western regions. The Government is seriously engaged in providing emergency medical services and relief assistance to the people suffering. All the relevant Government agencies in those districts are being mobilized to help and support the affected people. I have already given strong instructions to the concerned officials to take all necessary measures to contain the disease and to make essential health and sanitation services available to them on a priority basis. With the understanding, support and cooperation of all including governmental and non-governmental agencies and individuals from both inside and outside the country, I am confident that we will be able to get over this problem soon.
I would like to recognize here the roles that the Non-residence Nepali community has been playing in the nation building processes. The contribution through remittance, economic investment and other forms of cooperation that the NRN community has been providing has contributed greatly in our economy. The Government of Nepal is ready to provide conducive environment to further utilize the resources, knowledge and assistance of non-residence Nepali towards social and economic development of the country.
I am happy to note that our commitment to peace, democracy and development has been fully recognized, respected and supported by our development partners and the international community including the United Nations.
With these views, I once again would like to convey my best wishes for a bright and prosperous days ahead.
Address by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal at a
Programme Organized to Celebrate the 62nd Anniversary of the
Nepal Council of World Affairs (NCWA)
Kathmandu, 27 July 2009