Inaugural Address by The Rt. Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba, at the Fifteenth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal
10 August 2017
Honourable Foreign/External Affairs Ministers and Deputy Foreign Ministers of BIMSTEC Member States,
Mr. Secretary General of BIMSTEC,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening and Namaste!
It gives me immense pleasure to address the inaugural session of the Fifteenth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting.
I wish to extend a very warm welcome and pleasant stay to all of you in Nepal.
The establishment of BIMSTEC twenty years ago was a milestone in regional cooperation. I recall with pleasure my participation at the very first BIMSTEC Summit held in Bangkok in 2004. I was leading the Nepali delegation as Prime Minister at this Summit when Nepal joined BIMSTEC as a full-fledged member. I would like to commend all those engaged for maintaining the momentum of the BIMSTEC process.
BIMSTEC is a bridge connecting two dynamic sub-regions of Asia.This region houses more than a fifth of the world population, a majority of which are youth.
Both these sub-regions are blessed with vast and diverse natural resources ranging from the deep seas to the high mountains. If these resources are harnessed properly and utilized efficiently, prosperity will not be out of reach of our peoples.
The region remains connected by shared culture, history and geography. Buddhism that regards all human beings as equal is our common bond and belief. Diverse and rich cultural heritages make our region a miniature world in itself. This Region’s unity and harmony amidst vast diversity provide a strong foundation for cooperation the success of which lies in the level of commitment, understanding and partnership.
The BIMSTEC region, like any other region, confronts the dangers of transnational crimes. Militant extremism, human, arms and drug trafficking have deeply disturbed peace and harmony in our societies.
Terrorism continues to be the greatest threat to peace, democracy, development and good neighbourliness. Nepal firmly and unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Terrorism cannot be justified on any grounds.
Poverty remains the most formidable challenge in our path to growth and prosperity. We must collectively and decisively overcome this challenge to enable our people’s right to live with dignity and honour.
Climate change, natural calamities and disasters also pose serious threats to our very survival. To talk of my own country, Nepal is vulnerable to natural disasters as evidenced by the great earthquakes in 2015. We are also bearing the brunt of climate change despite our negligible contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. To combat all these challenges, we need stronger partnership and deeper collaboration among ourselves.
At this juncture, I would like to express sincere thanks to BIMSTEC members for their support in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes.
Let me briefly share current political developments in Nepal. Our topmost priority has been to implement the Constitution promulgated by an elected Constituent Assembly in September 2015. The Constitution provides a federal set-up and ensures inclusive governance and democratic pluralism. In line with the constitutional mandate, we organized elections at the local level and remain firmly committed to holding the remaining elections at the local, provincial and federal levels. We are engaged with all political stakeholders to create a more conducive environment to encourage the broadest possible political participation in all the upcoming elections.
I take this opportunity to sincerely appreciate the continued support and solidarity shown by our fellow BIMISTEC members in this historic democratic transition.
As this transformation concludes, accelerated economic development with social justice and environment sustainability will continue to be at the top of our national development agenda. After years of struggle for democratic order, people of Nepal deserve a better quality of life. I am firmly committed to making serious efforts for the recovery of lost development decades. I believe that a successful democratic process must deliver development dividends. I also believe that regional cooperation and integration will remain critical for accelerating rapid economic growth and social progress of my country.
Regional cooperation remains an important element in Nepal’s foreign policy. We believe that regional cooperation is not a choice but a compulsion. In this age of globalization and economic interdependence, it is but natural for Nepal to aspire to grow together with the region. We want to contribute to the realization of a vibrant and dynamic economic region that is also a peaceful and harmonious. Our success, as a regional grouping, will lie in our collective efforts to ensure that deeper integration benefits all member states in an equitable way. Member countries of BIMSTEC are at different stages of social and economic development, thus BIMSTEC must give due attention to the differential needs of its members in order to be effective as a regional grouping.
We live in a period of opportunities and challenges, complexities and contradictions. We need to carefully and consciously venture into the future with common and focused purpose. It is imperative for us to choose a path of partnership, collaboration and cooperation.
I am happy to note that Panchsheel–the five principles of peaceful co-existence -that are derived from the teachings of Lord Buddha, provides an enduring framework for managing harmonious interstate relations. I believe these principles make meaningful contributions in promoting peace, stability, security and development, which are key aims of BIMSTEC.
Asia holds the key to the future of the world and the BIMSTEC region remains an important part of the Asian community. We need to ensure physical and digital connectivity, as well as connectivity of mind, especially, among researchers and visionary thinkers across the region in order to archive our collective goals.
As we mark the twentieth anniversary, let this occasion be the turning point in the history of BIMSTEC!
May this occasion inspire us towards enhanced vigor, revitalized energy and unyielding zeal to take this region to a new height of progress and prosperity!
In this context, I would also like to underscore that this is the right moment to focus on deepening rather than widening the areas of cooperation.
Let us pledge to our people that, by the end of year 2017, negotiations of all existing key instruments of the regional cooperation framework, be it in trade, investment or connectivity, become conclusive, and mechanisms relating to energy, technology, and weather and climate become fully functional.
Let us also pledge to our people that, from the year 2018 onwards, we commence to deliver results and outcomes.
Nepal remains firmly committed to the objectives and ideals of BIMSTEC.
Finally, I would like to extend my best wishes for productive deliberations.
I look forward to fruitful outcomes of the Ministerial Meeting.